Transgender athlete Hannah Mouncey said that she is "disappointed" at not being allowed to compete in the national women's football competition in '18, after the Australian Football League "declined her request to nominate" for the AFL Women's draft, according to Sam McClure of THE AGE. The AFL "based its decision" on the Victorian Equal Opportunity Act, which states that athletes can be discriminated against based on their sex or gender "if strength, stamina or physique is relevant." The league "left the door open for Mouncey to be eligible" for the '19 draft, but she would have to "go through a similar process." Mouncey said in a statement, "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." Although Mouncey's hormone levels "would see her eligible to compete at the Olympics under IOC regulations," the AFL placed more significance on Victorian law because of the "physical nature of the sport" (THE AGE, 10/17). The NEW ZEALAND HERALD reported Mouncey "previously represented Australia as a male in European handball." AFL GM, Inclusion & Social Policy Tanya Hosch "thanked the 27-year-old for her understanding." Hosch: "Hannah's passion for football is undeniable, and I want to thank her and her team for their constructive participation in the decision-making process." Earlier, a "leading Australian media lawyer" said that the AFL is "in danger of being accused of discrimination" for the polarizing decision to deny Mouncey a spot in the league (NZ HERALD, 10/17). The BBC reported the AFL Players' Association accused the AFL of lacking "clear guidelines for transgender players." The AFLPA's statement added, "No athlete should face such confusion around their eligibility for an elite competition just days out from a draft." Mouncey, who is 6-foot-2 and weighs 218 pounds, "has played eight matches and kicked 17 goals for Ainslie in the Canberra Women's League" (BBC, 10/17).
'CLEAR DISRESPECT': In London, Kate O'Halloran commented the AFL’s last-minute decision to deny Mouncey "is a significant step backwards in any self-professed claim the league has to inclusiveness." It amounts to a "serious and damaging about-face" for an organization that "so recently threw its support behind the marriage equality campaign" in an effort to demonstrate its "respect for all LGBTI people involved in the game, including its players." The AFL "has shown clear disrespect to Mouncey in the timing of the announcement" (GUARDIAN, 10/17).
JUDGMENT CALL: In Sydney, Chip Le Grand reported a "prominent advocate for transgender athletes" backed the AFL's decision to exclude Mouncey "due to her abnormal size and strength." Kirsti Miller, a "transgender sport trail blazer who represented Australia in modern pentathlon as a man before waging a four-year battle to be accepted as a female country footballer," said that a tough stance "was necessary to protect the integrity of women's sport." Miller said, "The AFL has made what I believe is the best judgment call in delaying Hannah’s attempt at joining the AFLW. 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" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 10/18).