An Australian transgender footballer will now be able to compete in the women’s state and territory leagues after the Australian Football League (AFL) changed a gender diversity policy.
“The AFL strongly encourages all Australian football competitions to adopt the AFL’s recommendation to facilitate the inclusion of trans players at the community level until the AFL’s gender diversity policy is finalised,” the AFL said in a statement, announcing its change in policy allowing transgender Hannah Mouncey to compete in the women’s league, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
Born a male, Mouncey says he didn’t realize until his late twenties that he was transgender, and said that he discovered his true self when he was seeing a psychologist for other reasons.
“I will not and I think it would be highly inappropriate for me to thank the AFL for allowing me to do something open to every other Australian, which the science and research has supported all along,” Mouncey wrote on Twitter after the AFL’s policy announcement. There is a “lack of knowledge and understanding around the science involved in gender transition,” he added.
— Hannah Mouncey (@HannahMouncey) February 13, 2018
“We are committed to inclusion, and want all Australians to be able to play or participate in our game,” AFL general manager of inclusion and social policy, Tanya Hosch, said in a statement.
The decision comes after the Australian Football League ruled in November that Mouncey wouldn’t be able to compete on the AFL women’s handball team, as was his original goal.
The AFL defended its decision to bar Mouncey from competing with women by citing in November the Victorian Equal Opportunity Act, which states that officials can prevent athletes from competing if their physique, stamina or strength is relevant and gives them an unfair advantage.
“Of course I’m going to have a size advantage over some of the girls,” Mouncey told “60 Minutes” in an interview, but said that he should still be able to play and that the AFL’s decision is unjust. Mouncey also said he has considered going back to being a man so he can have all his friends back and live a normal life, noting the difficulties of being transgender. “It’s not a choice, it’s just not. No one would choose that,” he said. (RELATED: Trans Athlete Admits He Has A ‘Size Advantage’ Over Female Competitors)
“The AFL has made what I believe is the best judgment call in delaying Hannah’s attempt at joining the AFLW,” Aussie transgender pentathlete star, Kirsti Miller, told The Australian after the AFL’s initial decision to bar Mouncey from the women’s league.
The league will continue to seek advice from the Australian Sports Commission and the Australian Human Rights Commission on the issue.
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