Former Australian cricket vice-captain Alex Blackwell has opened up about the treatment of lesbians in sport, saying they are still marginalised and seen as “predators”.
Openly gay Blackwell said that she has had conversations with cricket administrators who claimed there was a problem with “predatory behaviour in women’s sport”.
“Their concern is that poor behaviour in women’s sport is by the lesbians,” she told The Guardian.
“I have felt profiled because I’m a lesbian, profiled as a predator.
“Lesbians in sport have been profiled as predators. That is very hurtful, and I’m tired of that.
“It’s really unfair to profile a group of people as good or bad based on a characteristic like sexuality or skin colour or religion… because perceptions of what goes on in team sports where there are lesbians doesn’t match reality.”
The LGBTIQ advocate said that difficult conversations were necessary to dispel harmful myths among administrators.
“I do feel like the thing that’s damaging for me has not been the talk within teams; it’s the attitudes I observe and the comments I hear from administrators who seem to have a concern,” she said.
“I believe it’s unfounded, but it’s a real concern for them, and so we need to continue to have the conversation in respectful ways to understand what their concerns are and then go about trying to quantify and qualify the issue before we try to tackle it.
“I’ve not witnessed [predatory behaviour] and I’ve been in [sport] for 20 years.
“But what is it in that comment that’s important? It’s workplace behaviour for everybody, that’s what’s important.
“So let’s try to focus on the common goals, which is more girls and women playing sport and having a wonderful experience.”
Blackwell also lauded Cricket Australia’s new guidelines for supporting gender diverse people in the sport.
“I benefited so much from sport in elite teams [and] I don’t think trans and gender diverse people should be excluded from that,” she said.
Many LGBTIQ people report feeling excluded from sport by discrimination and bullying, but meaningful inclusion can allow diverse people to enjoy the physical and mental benefits of sport.