Australian rugby Olympian Ellia Green slams upsetting decision of World Athletics to ban transwomen

By Kristy Williams for Daily Mail Australia

05:37 26 Mar 2023, updated 06:21 26 Mar 2023

  • Green has slammed World Athletics
  • Trans athletes now banned
  • The footy star said it was ‘exciting’

Ellia Green knows all too well what it feels like to be a transgender athlete who isn’t “treated like a human being” – so the Australian Olympian says World Athletics’ (WA) decision to allow trans women to compete is good for them prohibit being “annoying”.

President Sebastian Coe, a two-time gold medalist, announced Friday that transgender women can no longer compete in women’s track and field events.

This is unrelated to their testosterone levels or any of the other tests sports officials typically ask transgender athletes to check off.

It’s divided opinions in the sports world and ignited fierce – and sometimes hateful – debate, and Green says that’s precisely why the decision is so troubling.

The Rugby Sevens star, who was part of Australia’s gold-medal-winning team at the Rio 2016 Olympics, switched to male after retiring and said the call would see even more hatred against trans athletes.

Australian Olympic champion Ellia Green, a transgender male, has criticized World Athletics’ decision to ban transgender female athletes from competing in women’s track and field events
Green only made the move after retiring from a top-flight footy career that included 141 tries (fourth-most in history) and 739 points in 149 Sevens games for Australia, along with a host of other accolades

“It (the ban on transgender women from competing) wasn’t surprising given what’s going on in the world and the hatred and discrimination directed at trans people… it was harrowing to see ‘ Green said on Channel 9 on Sunday.

The raging winger and human highlights role represented Australia for nearly 10 years, wearing green and gold for 149 games and playing for the Warriors in the 2020 NRLW competition.

But Green, who starred on hit reality show SAS Australia last year, also knows a thing or two when it comes to athletics.

Green was a talented sprinter at the highest level prior to his move before being identified as a possible elite Rugby Sevens recruit in 2012.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

The 172cm, 78kg wrecking ball scored an incredible 141 tries (fourth-most in history) and 739 points over 149 games and was almost impossible to stop once he was at full power.

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But that success masked some tough times.

The 30-year-old realized from a young age that the gender he was assigned at birth wasn’t the identity he felt deep down – and luckily he had a lot of support from longtime partner Vanessa Turnbull-Roberts.

Green and his partner Vanessa Turnbull-Roberts have a daughter together named Waitui
Green was a sprinter before he was spotted by Rugby Sevens recruiters and he said the decision to ban transgender athletes was “very upsetting”.

In an inspirational video released last August by the Bingham Cup, colloquially known as rugby union’s gay/inclusive world cup, Green – who has retained the same name – told the world he had switched to manhood.

“All I knew was that having this surgery and being in the body I knew I needed to be would be the most liberating feeling,” he said in the video announcing the transition .

“It was a bright spark in my mind during those dark times facing demons, but I knew there was light at the end of the tunnel.

“No one likes to be excluded because of their identity, it’s like being bullied and being judged … and then you see suicide rates, mental illness and depression increase.”

Because of that experience, he says World Athletics’ decision to ban transgender female athletes is not only “disturbing” but dangerous.

Green with his partner Vanessa and their daughter Waitui outside their home in Sydney. He said the pair brought him joy after some dark times
Green, who plays on the beach with Waitui, believes the decision to ban transgender women from athletics will only lead to more hatred and discrimination

“I think it just encourages the exclusion and discrimination of trans people. It’s something that’s already such a big problem in society, let alone sport,” he said Sunday morning.

“The problems that transgender people face are enormous in society. Bringing that into sport and the associated challenges is a completely different topic.

“I think the media and the way it is portrayed can get a lot better because there is so much opinion and insults against the athletes personally available on social media. I think there is a lot to do in that regard.”

This is underscored by the fact that LGBTQ+ rights organization Stonewall called World Athletics’ move “disappointing” – but Fair Play For Women, a UK-based advocacy group, welcomed the move, which they say will “promote women’s sport protects”.

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Green said he believes part of the reasoning for banning transgender athletes is the fact that, horribly, they “are not viewed as human beings.”

“I think before that answer is available, we need to see trans people as human beings first. I think the key word there is to see,” he said when asked about the future for transgender female athletes.

“And I think the transphobia and hate crimes against trans people need to be addressed before we can even think about what’s going to be done with the sport.

“I think it’s a very one-sided debate at the moment. We don’t hear enough about what can benefit the sport as a whole when more people of different types are involved.”

Only Green, one of the most high-profile Australian athletes to make the switch, agrees.

Ricki Coughlan, one of the country’s first transgender athletes in professional running, also said the move would encourage the “forces of hate”.

Professional runner Ricki Coughlan was one of the first transgender women in the history of Australian sport and is also disappointed by WA’s decision

“There’s no nice way to put it,” she told Reuters.

“The forces of hate out there that don’t want transgender people to exist in our society … will take this as a victory and then say, ‘Okay, let’s move on to the next one.’

WA President Sebastian Coe said the decision was made after consultation with 40 member federations, coaches, athletes, transgender groups, United Nations experts and the IOC.

While some argue that going through male puberty confers physical benefits on transgender women, advocates of transgender participation in sports say that not enough research has been done on whether transgender women have any benefits.

For Green, he was only considering transitioning into retirement and wanted to be a role model for children who experienced tremendous hatred to the point where many don’t want to leave.

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Ellia Green (left) with mother Yolanta before his move. He wants to be a role model for trans youth who are at a much higher risk of suicide

His emotional coming-out video was an attempt to substantiate the fact that studies have shown that more than 40 percent of transgender youth had considered attempting suicide.

“Having finished my rugby career it was something I was really excited about because I had been planning it for a while. I knew I couldn’t do hormone therapy or surgery during my career … it all happened so quickly,” Green said last year, retiring after being devastated to miss the Tokyo Olympics side.

It’s a debate that continues to be heated up online, and many things are far too hateful or graphic to put into a story.

The only other transgender or gender-diverse Olympic gold medalists are Caitlyn Jenner and Quinn, who share the same name and were part of Canada’s victorious women’s soccer team in Tokyo last year.

For their part, Athletics Australia do not appear to know what they will do about WA’s decision, saying in a statement that they “respected” the decision and acknowledged how difficult it was for trans athletes to deal with.

Female transgender athletes are now banned from competing in women’s track and field events (pictured is Athing Mu, who wins the women’s 4x400m relay at the Tokyo Olympics).

“As a member federation of World Athletics, Athletics Australia respects the decision and is committed to complying with the rules for elite competitions set out by World Athletics,” the statement said.

“We recognize that this is a complex and emotional issue that sports organizations around the world, particularly at the elite level, continue to grapple with.

“We recognize the impact that a decision like World Athletics’ can have on transgender and DSD athletes and members of the broader community.

“Athletics Australia supports the WA Council’s agreement to set up a working group to further consult and consider the issue of transgender inclusion and to make further recommendations to the Council.

“Athletics Australia is committed to ensuring that athlete welfare at all levels and inclusion at the level of community participation remain a priority in Australian athletics.”

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