kirsti miller
Photo: supplied.
International, National, News

Ban Warren from rugby, but please don’t ban Kirsti

Athlete Kirsti Miller, who has represented Australia in both aquathon and modern pentathlon, thinks the current agenda against trans athletes is fuelled by misinformation and division. 

The World Rugby working group, which met in August and included members from anti-trans group Fair Play for Women, has proposed banning trans women rugby players from the game. 

It had only two trans people in its working group and no trans women rugby players.

Miller, a fierce trans advocate and Wagga Wagga Sporting Hall of Famer, believes inclusion in sports should be on a case-by-case basis and that no blanket ban such as World Rugby’s should be implemented.

“Ban Warren*, but please don’t ban Kirsti,” Miller told Pink Advocate.

She said that if people were aware of what trans people go through while transitioning, including hormone and anti-androgen therapy for trans women, they may not be so quick to judge.

“World Rugby has not taken into consideration our lived experience as transgender people,” said Miller.

“They’ve really based this whole review on the differences between cisgender men and cisgender women in rugby.

“They’ve ignored people that have lived and breathed these changes as elite athletes like myself… represent[ing] in sports like rugby, rugby league, and AFL and an international representative in two sports and a world champion.

“I’m a clear case that Warren isn’t Kirsti anymore, because you can see Warren was 103 kilograms and was the biggest on the team and Kirsti is the smallest on the team. 

“Absolutely men shouldn’t be playing women’s rugby, and Warren shouldn’t be playing – but Kirsti isn’t Warren anymore and hasn’t been for many, many, many years,” she said.

kirsti miller old
Photo: supplied.

Miller also believes sponsorship should be withdrawn from World Rugby if they pursue such divisive and discriminatory action.

“I believe pressure should be placed on the commercial sponsors of World Rugby and also any sponsors or partners of any federations that support to put a blanket ban on trans athletes,” she said.

Miller legally changed her name and gender in the early 2000s to reflect that she is a woman.   

“We’re protected under the law in Australia, I’m a recognised female, and I’m protected under the Protections Discrimination Act,” she said.

She said she felt any organisation supporting World Rugby’s proposed ban is supporting transphobia and hate against the trans community.

“These major sponsors have to be shown that inclusion is a good thing, [and] exclusion is a bad thing for their business, for their customers, for the community that they’re in,” said Miller. 

“We’re recognised in every other part of society as women, except for World Rugby and similar [sporting organisations] in other parts of the world.”

Miller recently spoke at the virtual Co-Exist Peer Panel: Equality Is The Prize, with other high-profile trans athletes.

She said she would like to see Australian corporate and sporting organisations take a stand against World Rugby’s proposed ban in a similar manner to how the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has stood up to anti-trans bills in the United States.  

“I’d like to see Rugby Australia take the stance and courage like the NCAA took when states were considering transgender bans in states like Idaho and Connecticut,” said Miller. 

“It’s gotta happen here, as it’s already established in federal law in Australia that trans women are women. 

“To do a blanket ban – I’d be seeing them in court.”

*Miller gave permission for her former name to be used in this article. No trans person’s former name or pronouns should be used without their permission.

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