Australian Olympic gold medalist Emily Seebohm has slammed right-wing conservative political lobbying group Advance Australia for unauthorisedly using her photo on a billboard to campaign against trans women in female sports. 

Trigger Warning: This story discusses transphobic comments, which might be distressing to some readers. For 24-hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.

The giant billboard on a truck was seen driving around Warringah and campaigning against MP Zali Steggall. The Independent MP had criticised her rival Liberal candidate Katherine Deves over her transphobic social media posts. Steggal had called on the Liberal party to dis-endorse Deves, but Prime Minister Scott Morrison had refused to sack his “captain’s pick” candidate

Steggall posted a photo of the truck with the billboard. “Right-wing activist group Advance Australia are up to their usual misleading dirt. But do they have consent/approval by for this ? Is this why Scott Morrison doesn’t want Truth in Political Advertising laws?”

‘The Whole Thing Is Awful’

Seebohm told The Project that she had “no idea who Advance Australia is but … I don’t want my photo next to something saying transphobic”. 

“That is a statement that I’ve never said and I don’t suggest nor support that and … the photo is just horrific! So the whole thing is just awful to me,” said the three-time Olympic gold medalist.

Seebohm said that her previous statements were taken out of context to portray that she had spoken against trans participation in female sports.

“I’ve not once said that I don’t want inclusivity in this sport. I want everyone to feel included in this sport, we just have to work out how that works and how this will look,” said Seebohm.

In an Instagram story, Seebohm had said: “I love sharing my sport and I want to see more trans people being able to live the life they want”.


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Melbourne-based social media handle TheVegaBus asked her followers to read beyond the headlines that described Seebohm as transphobic and shared that the swimmer had reached out to her in a message. 

“I can’t stress enough how much I want to see more trans athletes in sport but we need to make sure they feel safe and supported,” Seebohm had said.

Lobby Group Threatened With Legal Action

Swimming Australia said it had issued a legal notice to the lobbying group to take down the offensive billboard.

“Swimming Australia strongly condemns the use of imagery of our athletes, past and present, by the Advance Australia party in recent political advertising,” chief executive Eugenie Buckley said in a statement, adding that the group had neither sought or had been granted permission to use the photos. 

“Swimming Australia believes in a competitive environment that is inclusive, fair and equitable for all athletes at the same time. Ultimately, all Australians deserve to feel welcome, safe, valued and celebrated in swimming,” the statement added.

If you feel distressed reading the story, you can reach out to support services.

For 24-hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14

For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.


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