Image courtesy Hannah Mouncey Facebook
Transgender female AFL player Hannah Mouncey will be allowed to play in the Victorian state football League after being cleared to play on Tuesday. She remains ineligible to play in the national AFLW competition this season.
Mouncey has previously played for Ainslie in the ACT but was blocked from entering the draft for the AFLW last year because under the Victoria Equal Opportunity Act, athletes can be discriminated against based on their gender or sex “if strength, stamina or physique is relevant.” An AFL subcommittee rejected her application on these grounds, even though her testosterone levels are under threshold required to be eligible for Olympic competition as a woman.
Before her transition, Mouncey represented Australia 22 times as part of the men’s national handball team.
“Eligibility decisions are generally made by state and local leagues in accordance with the rules and policies of the relevant football body,” the AFL said in a statement on Tuesday.
“However, 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 also said that the decision to not let Mouncey enter the AFLW draft only applied to last year and that the league is taking advice on the issue from the Australian Sports Commission and the Australian Human Rights Commission.
"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 the statement.
"These are complex issues and we are considering expert opinion, international frameworks and feedback from the communities that are impacted by our decisions."
Mouncey heavily criticised the AFL in a statement she released on Twitter, saying “I welcome the AFL’s decision, and I look forward to hopefully playing this season. And while I wholeheartedly thank those who have supported me through this time, 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.”
“Had we simply gone by the research at the start, we could have avoided the whole saga which has taken place completely. I am however grateful that they took the time to look at this situation properly, as it is complex, and took all the relevant advice on board that was provided."
”While being allowed to play is very much a positive, the line of questioning I’ve received and the circus that has ensued around my ability to play for the last four months has certainly highlighted two things. This includes the very much understandable lack of knowledge and understanding around the science involved in gender transition.”
“This is I think to be expected and I understand, it is not something that I would expect everyday people to be across.”
“But more importantly and worryingly, it showed a disturbing willingness by those who don’t understand it to dismiss research and evidence which has been through the most rigorous scientific checks and balances.”
“This seems to be the only area of medicine where people with no background in medicine, science or the relevant issues are more than willing to dismiss the advice of experts simply because it does not necessarily match what they were brought up to believe.”
Mouncey wrote about the “huge challenges in finding housing and employment” since transitioning in 2015, the loss of her best friend and her mental health struggles, all of which she says are experiences “far too common” for trans people.
Mouncey also criticised the way the AFL treated her throughout this process, saying that what started as the desire to play football became about “making sure that I as a trans person am not treated any differently to anyone else, and neither is any other trans person out there.”
Since the AFL’s decision was made public on Tuesday, Mouncey has received transphobic abuse on her Twitter account.