The Transgender Call

The decision has been to disallow Hannah Mouncey from applying for this year’s draft. The AFL’s position stated:


“A subcommittee was formed to rule on Mouncey’s eligibility and its decision was based on analysis of transgender strength, stamina and physique, as well as the AFLW being in its infancy”.


With Hannah being around the 100kg mark, she would be on average 30kg heavier than most current AFLW players. Whether she is a gun player or not, she does possess an unfair advantage in terms of weight and accumulated strength.


Also, as the reasoning correctly states, the AFLW is in its infancy and while players are well and truly pumping iron (for well over 12 months) they are still behind where Mouncey would be, body wise. Particularly given her prior history as an Australian rep. Heavy knocks are certainly not uncommon as this years’ games attest. It would be particularly frustrating if some of the elite players of the ‘average’ size were taken out by the size of such a player as Mouncey. Without the likes of Phillips, Blackburn, Vescio, Pound, etc, the AFLW would certainly lose players who are likely to draw a crowd.


Yet what if a transgender girl was actually at the current norm of around 70kg? What if she was less? Like some are? What if this young girl was 55kg and wanted to apply for the draft with no prior history as an elite athlete that had represented Australia? What if she was just a young lad, went though the transgender process and said to the AFL, “I love the AFLW game, I want to play … I am no threat.” The dilemma deepens as does the equity issue.


The AFL prides itself on being a national league and a standards-setter, if not trendsetter when it comes to issues at the forefront of society. Just look at how they tackled racial inequality, female participation and mental illness awareness as good examples. When the AFL acts, all other sporting bodies in the country take heed and react to keep up. Equal opportunity has been an integral part of AFL dealings so to declare such a decision is indeed a bold move by the the league. It says a lot about them wanting to protect and grow their ‘commercial’ product.


I believe the AFL have adjudicated correctly on this issue … for the moment. I say this on the premise that once the AFLW reaches a higher standard (at least 5 years away) in terms of the physicality of the athlete. Until then such transgender players will have to bide their time. While the inaugural year has surpassed all expectations, the competition is still in its formative years and the league must ensure that it doesn’t falter.


The consolation for Hannah is that she can continue to play for her local club. She can apply in the future for the draft, although what year that will be is uncertain. There are indeed transgender players currently playing VFLW and their inclusion/exclusion at AFLW level remains unknown, which brings up further questions. Quite rightly, the AFLPA has asked the league for clarification on the general issue in light of these players and their future as well.





  1. Dave Brown says

    Appreciate you having a go at this issue Dave. My perspective is a bit different – women should be allowed to play women’s football. Surely if the ‘safety’ argument is to be run (apart from the fact that we let Aaron Sandilands onto the same field as Caleb Daniel) then the AFLW should be the only league Hannah should be allowed in as it’s where the biggest and strongest players are. To say she can’t play AFLW but can play in any other women’s league just doesn’t make sense to me.

  2. Paul Young says

    I’m a big fan of the South African world champion 800m athlete Caster Semanya who has a huge advantage in strength and power over other female 800m athletes. So much so she was subjected to a lot of innuendo about her sexuality after she won the 2009 world title as an 18yo. She underwent a ‘sex verification’ test and while those test results were never made public, the IAAF did clear her to compete. Since then the athletics world has gotten use to having Semenya dominate the event, winning gold at both the 2012 and 2016 Olympics and another two gold medals at the world champs.

    This of course is a different situation, because Caster has never transitioned from male to female, she has always been female. But it was her strength, power & size, that caused people to be concerned and forced the IAAF to act and ultimately clear her to compete.

    So……I don’t know as much as the AFL in terms of all the reasons why Hannah was disallowed to play at the higher level, but like Dave Brown says, it does appear strange she is encouraged to play against ‘lesser’ conditioned athletes in a lower grade than against the bigger bodied girls running around in the AFLW.

    Some of the girls running around in the AFLW who love a fierce contest, would probably relish the opportunity to play against Hannah.

    I think in time, transgender women will be allowed to play AFLW. It just needs more research and understanding.

  3. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Let Hannah play. The game can accommodate all shapes, sizes and genders or non.

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