Australian rugby sevens Olympic gold medalist Ellia Green comes out as transgender |  rugby sevens

Australian rugby sevens Olympic gold medalist Ellia Green comes out as transgender | rugby sevens

Former rugby sevens international Ellia Green has come out as a trans man and says she hopes the announcement will help others feel comfortable enough to make decisions about who they want to be.

The Australian Olympic champion, who said he had suffered from serious mental health problems since retiring from the sport last year, made the announcement in a pre-recorded video shown at an international summit in Canada on ending homophobia and transphobia. on the sport.

“I made a promise to myself that when my rugby career was over, I would continue to live the rest of my life in the identity and body that I know I am meant to be in,” Green said.

“I knew it was going to be the most liberating feeling when I had that surgery and to be in the body that I knew I had to be. That was a bright spark in my mind during these dark times facing demons, but I knew there was light at the end of the tunnel.”

The 29-year-old, who won a gold medal at the Rio Games in 2016, becomes the first Olympian to come out as transgender. The only other transgender or gender-diverse Olympic gold medalists are decathlete Caitlyn Jenner and Canadian soccer player Quinn, who won gold in Tokyo last year.

Green’s transition comes at a time when attention is turning to the issue of trans athletes in professional sports.

World Rugby has barred transgender women from competing in women’s rugby union, while the International Rugby League has barred rugby league players who have transitioned from male to female from international competition. In June, swimming’s world governing body, Fina, voted to exclude transgender women from elite women’s competitions.

The decisions have been widely criticized by trans advocates, including Green, who says they only increase transphobia and exacerbate mental health issues in the trans community.

“Imagine not being able to do what you love because of how you identify, banning transgender people from sport, I think that’s shameful and hurtful,” Green said. “I think the alarmingly high rates of suicide and mental health challenges experienced by trans and gender diverse youth will get even worse.”

Green has no ambition to return to the sport for himself at the moment, having withdrawn a few months after failing to make the seven-woman Australian squad for the delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

At the time, he struggled with his own mental health and suffered from depression, admitting that he spent a lot of time “alone at home, in a dark room.”

“I was ashamed of myself, I felt like I had let a lot of people down, especially me and my mom. I felt like a complete failure, it was heartbreaking,” he said. “The only thing that kept me positive is that I had already planned my surgery and treatment for my transition. It was something that I was counting down the days with my partner.”

Ellia Green scores against the USA during the Women's Rugby Sevens World Cup Final in San Francisco, 2018
Ellia Green scores against the USA during the Women’s Rugby Sevens World Cup Final in San Francisco, 2018. Photograph: Jeff Chiu/AP

Having had a daughter, Waitui, with his partner, Vanessa Turnbull-Roberts, Green said it was important to lead by example and help others who may be facing the same decisions.

“A big reason I wanted to do this and talk about it is because I want my daughter to see me one day and say, ‘Wow, my dad was brave enough to talk about this, and my dad was brave enough to share his story with others to help them live their lives a little better, a little easier than what he did right now,’” she said.

“It is possible to live a life as your true self. It is possible to find love, to have children, to get married, to do all that, although there are laws and people who say that you can and you cannot do that. You can do it.”

Erik Denison, a Monash University researcher involved in research on homophobia and transphobia in sport, praised Green’s bravery, saying public support from high-profile athletes was invaluable given alarming suicide rates and the poor mental health among trans and gender diverse youth.

“I am in awe of Ellia’s bravery and her deep desire to help save the lives of trans youth by sharing her story,” said Denison. “She will be such a powerful role model for young people and sharing her story will help save lives.”

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