AUSSIE Rules football has taken another step towards full equality within its ranks, with news of Melbournian trans woman and goal umpire Michelle Diamond officiating her first Victorian Amateur Football Association match last weekend between the University Blues and Parkdale Vultures.
“I had so much fun preparing myself for the game the night before,” she said.
“I was so nervous and excited on the day that I was literally shaking and the butterflies in the tummy were going around and around, but once I got into the swing of things I was fine.”
Diamond also says that the Victorian Amateur Football Association’s “open arms” policy on diversity in comparison to other leagues such as AFL Cairns also played a role in helping her decide to relocate to Melbourne to pursue further career opportunities as an Aussie Rules goal umpire.
“When I officiated my first game, a team manager came up to me and said, ‘so that was your first game? You did well and I suggest you stick with it’,” Diamond said.
“I also got a thank you from one of the players, who went out of his way to show his appreciation.”
During the lead up to last weekend’s match, Diamond also received lots of support from the Victorian Amatuer Football Association and amateur football fans alike on social media.
The Victorian Amateur Football Association’s Umpire Association also made numerous tweets in support of her:
— VAFAUA (@vafaua) April 25, 2014
While Diamond has stated that her experiences with the Victorian Amateur Football Association has been amazing, she also told the Star Observer that she wishes that trans* and intersex people were properly included in the recently-announced anti-homophobia agreements that were signed by the chief executives of each of Australia’s principal football codes ahead of the Bingham Cup later this year.
“There is a T at the end of LGBT and we are NOT silent. In fact we are very vocal, even though we are one of the most marginalised demographics in our society,” she said.
“Therefore, it’s essential that the specific needs of trans* and intersex people are addressed when agreements like this are developed.”
However, Diamond also stated her belief that the absence of such agreements shouldn’t stop trans* and intersex people from engaging in sport and that it could be a powerful way of connecting with other people.
“I think that it’s great to get involved in sport as you meet new people, you get fit and active and (that) makes you feel good about yourself,” she said.
“I am so happy that I put myself out there and chased after my dreams or else I would be sitting here right now regretting it.”