Transgender footballer Hannah Mouncey has been blocked from participating in the AFL Women’s League’s 2018 season.
The AFL said in a statement it based its decision on the Victorian Equal Opportunity Act, which states athletes can be discriminated against based on their sex “if strength, stamina or physique is relevant.”
The draft subcommittee “carefully considered all of the information provided by Hannah, as well as the available data on transgender strength, stamina, physique along with the specific nature of the AFLW competition,” the AFL said.
Mouncey said in a statement she hoped to be able to play in future competitions.
“While I am disappointed with the AFL’s decision regarding my participation in the AFLW draft, I accept the league’s decision and thank them for the genuine way in which they approached my situation,” she said.
“Despite not being able to take part in the draft, I note that while I am not able to compete in the AFLW this season, the AFL has given me the all clear to play for Ainslie next year in the AFL Canberra competition for which I am very grateful and look forward to doing in 2018, before hopefully being able to nominate for next year’s draft.”
But the AFL Players Association slammed the last-minute announcement and lack of clarity around the decision and urged the league to develop better guidelines so Hannah and other players “have a clear understanding of their eligibility.”
“Whilst Hannah was provided with the opportunity to discuss her application with the AFL, the AFLPA believes there should have been clear guidelines available for transgender players wishing to enter the AFLW draft this year,” General Manager of Player Relations Brett Murphy said.
“No athlete should face such confusion around their eligibility for an elite competition just days out from a draft.”
LGBTI advocacy group Proud 2 Play said the league’s decision was “not in line with international best practice.”
“In recent years, the AFL has made great strides in demonstrating acceptance and inclusion of diverse sexualities through initiatives such as the Pride Game,” the group said.
“We urge the AFL to show the same acceptance and respect for trans and gender diverse people.
“As with other high profile cases involving female athletes — such as Caster Semenya — whether the athlete is trans or has an intersex variation, we encourage organisations to consider both the legal and human rights implications.”
Mouncey has previously been found to be well within the testosterone limits permitted by the International Olympic Committee that the AFL has adopted for transgender athletes, News Corp reported ahead of the decision.
Her participation as a player in the Canberra women’s AFL competition isn’t affected by the decision.
The AFL said she can nominate for future AFLW drafts and for registration in other Australian Football competitions.
(Photo by Hannah Mouncey/YouTube)