Ellia Green, Australian Olympic gold medalist and former rugby union player, came out as transgender on Tuesday.
Green, the first Olympian to come out as a transgender man, represented Australia in the women’s rugby sevens, winning Gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics and Silver at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Green came out in a heartfelt speech at the opening of the Bingham Cup’s international summit on ending transphobia and homophobia in sports. Bingham Cup also known as the Gay Rugby World Cup, is the world’s largest amateur rugby union tournament, and is named after Mark Bingham, a hero of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The 10th Bingham Cup is being held at Ottawa, Canada.
“I promised myself that when my rugby career ended, I would continue to live the rest of my life in the identity… in the body that I should have,” said Green who began his transition journey, after he retired in 2020.
‘Imagine Not Being Able To Do What You Love…’
Green lives in Sydney with his wife and their newborn child. He said that coming out as transgender in public was a difficult decision.
“Being open about my gender identity is a really difficult thing to do these days. All you have to do is turn on the TV, look on social media platforms, and you can see the amount of bullying, harm, and discrimination that goes on about gender identities. It’s extremely harmful, so for someone to be open and honest about their identity to the public eye is absolutely daunting,” said Green.
The former player also criticised moves by sport bodies, including World Rugby, to ban transgender girls and women from participating in female sport competitions.
“Imagine not being able to do what you love because of how you identify, banning transgender people from sport, I think is disgraceful, and I think it’s hurtful. I think that the alarmingly high rates of suicide and the mental health challenges which trans and gender diverse youth experience will get even worse,” said Green.
Respect The Decisions Made By Trans People
Green reflected on his playing days and winning the gold medal at the Rio Olympics. “We won a Gold Medal, and it was the most incredible feeling to be a part of it.”
After he retired from rugby, Green said he was in a dark place but his one source of joy was beginning his transition journey.
“The one thing that kept me positive was the fact that I had planned my surgery, my top surgery, and it was something that I had been literally counting down the days with my beautiful partner. I just knew it was going to be the most liberating feeling when I had that surgery and started to take the steps towards being in the body that I know I am meant to be in,” said Green.
Green said he wished people respected the decision of transgendfer people instead of asking questions. “I think some people take it as almost like you’re saying you’re an alien, just because you are not feeling into the social norm of being male or female”.
‘People Are Going To Have Something To Say’
Green said he was apprehensive about how people would respond to his coming out and had a message for other trans sportspersons.
“To those listening or to those who might have a story, even the slightest bit similar to mine, I would just love to tell you that it does get better, and it has taken me so much courage to even take the steps to sit here at now and talk about it. My heart is racing, my palms have been sweating, this is the first time that I have been so open to talk about this, and the main reason is because I am so worried about the reaction of people… Will people treat me differently? Will friends or family love me any less? Are people going to get a shock? What will the media say about me?”
“And the thing is, even without changing genders, changing appearance, identity, people are always going to have something to say, whether that be positive or negative. I learnt that in 10 years of being a professional rugby player. So why not just live the rest of your life exactly as you want to be because life is just too short to live it as something else, and you are beautiful,” added Green.
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