Transgender women in sport

Should transgender athletes be allowed to play women’s sport?

​Have you ever given Transgender Women in the AFLW a thought?

​The decision this week to ban 100kg transgender athlete Hannah Mouncey from the AFLW draft was contentious.

What do you think? Was this a fair decision, or policy on the run?

​What are the IOC Standards on Transgender?

On the eve of the AFLW draft, Hannah Mouncey had her elite football dreams shattered.

Because after receiving assurances for months and offers from clubs that she would be accepted, Mouncey was ruled ineligible by the AFL the day before the draft.

The reason? Mouncey was born a man.

Her hormone levels are safely under the IOC standards and mean she would be free to compete at the Olympics under current regulations. But her 190cm height and 100kg muscular frame was ruled to be a danger to other competitor's by the AFL, which leaned on the Victorian Equal Opportunity Act which allows strength, stamina or physique as valid reasons to stop transgender athletes from competing at the elite level.

Mouncey was disappointed, but interestingly said she had been given the all-clear to continue to compete for Ainslie in the AFL Canberra competition.

The decision was polarising. 

It was accepted by Kirsti Miller, a transgender sport advocate who represented Australia in modern pentathlon before fighting to play country football for four years.

"The AFL has made what I believe is the best judgement call in delaying Hannah’s attempt at joining the AFLW," she said.

"I want to see the maximum amount of trans people playing sport and being accepted at all levels but equally importantly, I want to see the integrity of women’s sport maintained."

But football's first openly gay player Jason Ball slammed the decision as "policy on the run".

"The AFL haven’t done the legwork on LGBTI inclusion like they could have and they are playing catch-up," he said.

"Now things like this blow up in their face when they haven’t even taken the time to create a policy. The reality is they aren’t properly resourcing this area."

There are many notable examples of transgender athletes taking part in women's sport around the world.

Chloe Anderson became the first transgender athlete in Santa Ana College when she joined the women’s volleyball team. She disputed the claims of genetics, saying that: "People who say male-to-female trans athletes have a physical advantage have never taken hormones".

Fallon Fox transgender athlete in the MMA

Fallon Fox has attracted significant criticism since becoming the first openly transgender athlete in the history of MMA.

Fallon Fox has attracted significant criticism since becoming the first openly transgender athlete in the history of MMA.

The Association of Boxing Commissions has given her the all clear to compete, but it doesn't stop the torrent of questioning and attacks whenever she steps in to fight.

Dr Eric Vilain is the director of the Institute for Society and Genetics at UCLA and he debunked theories than athletes that were born as women.

"(They) have significantly less muscle strength and bone density, and higher fat mass, than males," he said.

But Ohio University biological sciences lecturer Chris Schwirian told Runner’s World said that athletes born as men had many mechanical advantages over athletes born as women.

"A larger portion of (having greater muscle mass) is fast-twitch, which allows them to generate greater force, speed and anaerobically produced energy," he said.

"At all distances beyond 800 meters, the main reason for the gap is men’s higher aerobic capacity [VO2max], on average, which is due to their typically having less body fat, more hemoglobin and muscle mass, and larger hearts and lungs than women."

As the debate wages on, the fact is the Mouncey will run out against female park footballers with the AFL's blessing, while also being banned from playing at the elite level because she has been deemed unsafe.

What do you think? Should transgender athletes be allowed to compete in women's sport?


About the Author Josh Alston

Josh Alston is a hack with over 12 years industry experience, covering sport across all codes for newspapers and online agencies. Known to frequent grade matches because of their cheap tinnies. Eventually graduated with a Bachelor of Journalism and a Masters in sitting on the hill when the local cricket side was playing. Softball premiership winner, rugby league legend in Year 10 and no stranger to Doomben Racecourse.

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