Advocates have slammed media personality and former footballer Sam Newman over a ‘harmful’ video in which he pretends to be a trans person.
In a statement, Proud 2 Play, in conjunction with Pride Cup Australia, Stand Up Events, Pride in Sport (ACON), AFL Pride Collective, and in association with the AFL, labelled the video “transphobic behaviour”.
“His comments do not align with the way in which Australians expect transgender and gender diverse people to be treated in this country and are baseless, untrue and disrespectful.
“Athletes do not transition their gender to gain greater advantage in sport; they do to ensure they can live a life as their true and authentic selves.
“Sam Newman’s comments only bring harm to a population that already face numerous challenges that cis-gendered individuals will never have to face.”
In the video, Newman appears in heavy make-up and says, “I think I’ve run my race as an older male, and I’m thinking of transitioning.”
“I think I could feel comforted by being an older female, and it’ll work well because my partner is thinking of turning herself into a boy. It doesn’t change [that] we’re still man and woman.”
Sports journalist Mike Sheahan, who also appears in the video alongside Newman and former AFL coach Grant Thomas, asks Newman if he’s going to try to go to the Olympics.
“I’m going to clean up on world titles as a woman,” Newman says. “An older woman.”
Newman has since deleted the video, but this being the internet, it has been preserved on YouTube and elsewhere for anyone who wishes to subject themselves to it.
“This commentary is ignorant and designed to humiliate,” said Tanya Hosch, AFL’s General Manager of Inclusion and Social Policy.
The AFL is currently working on a trans and gender diverse inclusion policy for community football and has a zero-tolerance approach to discrimination on the basis of gender and sexuality.
“The AFL is proud to work with the LGBTI+ community to ensure our sport is welcoming and inclusive, and these comments are damaging to young trans people, and the broader LGBTI+ community,” Hosch said.
Events and Outreach Manager at Proud 2 Play and gender diverse athlete Bowie Stover said that the organisation has “seen first-hand the positive impacts that arise when trans and gender diverse Australians are encouraged and supported by sporting associations, clubs and prominent figures in the sporting community.”
This is disgusting Sam. We met up last year about your comments towards The Trans Community and how dehumanising and disgusting they were. You seemed somewhat remorseful yet sadly this is not surprising at all. Not great seeing the other two laugh along either.
— Angie Greene (@Ange_Greene) March 4, 2019
“We want to see positive representation of the trans and gender diverse sporting population to grow and for the mainstream community to understand the benefits in promoting inclusion in sport,” Stover said.
“We are pleased to see the AFL offering their support to the LGBTI+ community and showing a top down approach to tackling discrimination.”
“I too, am well to aware of what transphobic attitudes in our community can cause to trans and gender diverse individuals,” said trans athlete and activist Hannah Mouncey.
“It can cause not only a perception of fear for the LGBTI+ community but can also push young people from ever getting involved in sports in the first place.
“We must call out transphobic actions and language whenever and wherever we can, to make sure sport becomes a platform for inclusion and diversity and not a statement of exclusion.”
Despite deleting the video, Newman has doubled down, calling the backlash a “hysterical outpouring” regarding “women’s sport and transgender males entering it” in a tweet.
“Portraying myself as a ‘woman’ was only emphasizing this point,” he said.
It’s far from the first time Newman has expressed outdated and backwards views about LGBTI people.
In 2017, Newman referred to Caitlyn Jenner as “it”, saying, “I know who he… it is, I do … Is it transgender is it, or what is it?”
Newman even apologised for those comments, saying, “If you wish to declare yourself a woman, if you’re a man, or vice versa, that’s all that matters, I take that on advisement.”
“I can’t apologise any more for the remark I made. I know I’m a Luddite and a dinosaur and from a different generation, so I’m now enlightened.”
He also drew ire over past comments in which he called Michael Sam, the first out player to be drafted in the NFL, kissing his boyfriend “annoying and gratuitous”.
Newman has also flashed Footy Show audiences, caused Channel Nine to be sued for defamation over comments he made, and referred to a Malaysian man as being “not long out of the forest” in a ‘joke’ which was found to be in breach of the commercial television code.