Football player Hannah Mouncey has been hit with a slew of abuse online, after the AFL cleared her to play at the state level. Mouncey was originally barred from entering the AFLW draft in 2017 to play in 2018 because she is trans.
After the AFL's decision was made public, Mouncey received numerous abusive messages on social media. "Don't listen to the haters hanna (sic)," one man said in a Facebook message, "I for one absolutely cannot wait to see a 100kg man plough through a pack of 45kg women."
Mouncey has screenshotted a number of the messages and posted them on her Twitter.
"Fuck you fucking tranny," another wrote to her, "shouldn't be playing AFLW."
For Mouncey's part, she has taken the opportunity to direct public attention towards the issues trans people face—even after they have transitioned.
"Many people will wonder why I say football doesn't matter, when for so many people it is such a huge part of their lives and clearly mine," she said in a statement on Twitter. "But to understand why I feel that way, you need to first understand what so many trans people go through on a daily basis."
The footballer noted that she'd faced huge challenges in finding housing and employment since coming out as trans, while also managing her mental health through an incredibly stressful time. "The more normalised being trans is in society, the easier it will be for everyone," she said.
While Mouncey welcomed the AFL's decision, she does have some reservations. "I look forward to hopefully playing this season," she said. "[But] I think it would be highly inappropriate of me to thank the AFL for allowing me to do something open to every Australian, which science and research has supported all along."
In a statement, the AFL said it "strongly encourages" the inclusion of trans players at the community level. However, the league still hasn't finalised any sort of gender diversity policy on a national level.
According to AFL.com, the league's decision to bar Mouncey from the draft only applies to the 2018 season—meaning she could play in the AFLW next year, if the league extends its inclusive policy to the national game.
If you relate to any of the issues raised in this article, know there's help out there. If you are in Australia you can call Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4436 (24 hours, 7 days per week).