Tyler Leslight cemented his name into Australian racing history on Tuesday when he became the first out transgender jockey to win a top class race.
It was Leslight’s first time riding at a TAB card event. Leslight won the race riding atop Fire King in the 1,200 metre sprint at Mackay Racecourse.
“I knew the horse was a good chance but I never looked at the TAB odds, I don’t do that because it just goes to your head,” Leslight told News Corp.
Relationship With Family Fractured Over Coming Out As Trans
Even better for Leslight was the fact that the race was broadcast on television meaning his grandfather could watch him win.
“My pop used to train and he would have been sitting at his mate’s place watching it. He hasn’t been able to watch my races until now because they have all been non-Tab meetings and not broadcast on TV,” he told News Corp.
Leslight took his first ever win at a non-TAB race in Gladstone April 16, when he rode Fab’s Cowboy to victory. It was only the third official race for the 22 year old jockey.
Leslight, who medically transitioned to male at 16, has been open about how relationship with his family was fractured after telling them he was transgender. He said his mother “doesn’t speak to me anymore.”
“It is all about your ability to ride a horse and your horsemanship; that is all that matters,” he said.
Bill “Girlie” Smith Was Australia’s First Transgender Jockey
Leslight’s history-making win comes at a time when there is a harmful national debate that is seeking to bar transgender persons from single gender sport. A few weeks ago Queensland cross bench MP Robbie Katter threatened to introduce a bill barring transgender athletes from participating in women’s sports in Queensland. Earlier this year, Prime Minister Scott Morrison endorsed Senator Claire Chandler’s private member’s bill that’s seeks to ban trans girls and trans woman from female sport.
While Leslight has been called Australia’s first ever transgender jockey, others claim that honour rightfully belongs to Bill “Girlie” Smith.
Smith lived as a man in order to pursue the dream of being a jockey and trainer in the early 1900s. Smith was able to maintain their secret right up to their death in 1975.