Trans footballer Hannah Mouncey has been blocked from the draft for this year’s AFLW competition.
The eleventh-hour decision by the league ahead of today’s draft was based on Mouncey’s “strength, stamina [and] physique”, according to ABC News.
She said she hoped to be able to play in future AFLW competitions.
“While I am extremely disappointed with the AFL’s decision regarding my participation in [Wednesday’s] AFLW draft, I thank them for the genuine way in which they approached my situation,” she said.
“Despite not being able to take part in the draft, 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.”
The AFL released a statement explaining its reasons for the decision.
“The 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,” it said.
The AFL Players Association has criticised the last-minute decision.
“No athlete should face such confusion around their eligibility for an elite competition just days out from a draft,” said Brett Murphy, general manager of player relations.
LGBTI advocacy groups Proud 2 Play and Parents of Gender Diverse Children issued a statement condemning the league’s decision.
“The AFL’s decision is not in line with international best practice,” they said.
“In recent years, the AFL has made great strides in demonstrating acceptance and inclusion of diverse sexualities… 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.”
Social media responses have been divided, with many calling the decision transphobic, and the hashtag #LetHannahPlay being used to draw attention to the matter.
“Will the AFLW be blocking cisgender women of a similar size?” tweeted one person.
“The only reason why you think a trans woman shouldn’t be allowed to play women’s sport is because you think she’s a man, it’s that simple,” posted another.
The AFL said its decision only applies to this year, and Mouncey will be allowed to nominate for future drafts.
So under this latest aflw decision to block Hannah Mouncey, will the AFLW be blocking cisgender women of a similar size?
— Ella Fabry (@EllaFabry) October 17, 2017
The @AFL's decision to block Hannah Mouncey from AFLW is based on nothing more than fear, ignorance and lack of internal readiness.
— Jason Ball (@jasonballau) October 17, 2017
Hannah Mouncey can compete in the Olympics as a woman, but not play in an AFL women's team? This country is a bigotry dumpster fire.
— Sarah Ruby Bites (@SarahRubyWrites) October 17, 2017
the only reason why you think a trans woman shouldn't be allowed to play women's sport is because you think she's a man, it's that simple
— allison gallagher (@allisongallaghr) October 17, 2017