Trailblazing football player Hannah Mouncey has stated she will take legal action against the Australian Football League (AFL) over a new policy that could threaten her career.
Mouncey made headlines in 2017 when she looked set to be the first trans woman to play in the AFL Women’s competition, but that same year she was made homeless by the league’s decision to ban her from playing.
Living in Canberra and playing in the ACT league, she had planned a move to Melbourne once she was approved to participate in the women’s draft.
However, a last-minute decision by the league banned her from the draft and left her unable to play for the ACT league without official approval.
Unable to commit to staying or leaving Canberra, and with no job, Mouncey turned to housesitting to keep a roof over her head.
“Finding a job and somewhere to live when you’re trans is hard enough,” she said at the time.
Finally, in early 2018, Mouncey was cleared to play in the women’s league at the state level.
Now, after a new AFL gender policy may once again rule her out of playing, she has announced that she intends to take legal action against the league.
The new policy for trans women and non-binary players states requirements for testosterone levels and other physical criteria, while reserving the right to ban any trans player without cause.
“Unless we are able to resolve the issue, I will be taking a step of proceeding with legal action against the Australian Football League and its Gender Diversity Policy (Elite),” Mouncey posted on Twitter.
“This is not a step I take lightly and not one which I have had any desire to take if it could be avoided, however I believe at this point I have no other option if I want to play football in the AFL Canberra First Grade Competition in 2021.”
Mouncey said that she has asked numerous important questions of the league that have gone unanswered, including how the potential “safety risks” alluded to in the policy will be determined.
“It must also be noted that the current policy states that even if a player satisfies all criteria the AFL sets out, the AFL reserves the right to refuse the player the ability to play and no reason needs to be given,” she wrote.
Mouncey is an accomplished athlete and was named Victorian LGBT Sportsperson of the Year in 2018.
Before her AFL career and gender transition, she played handball at the international level, representing Australia at the 2013 World Championships in Spain.
This year’s AFL Women’s competition for Canberra will begin in May.