The Australian Football League has agreed to let a transgender player participate in the country’s second-tier state women’s competition while the governing body considers its gender diversity policy for the national league.
Hannah Mouncey, a former national men’s handball representative, last October lost her bid to take part in the AFL Women’s (AFLW) national draft, barring her from the 2018 elite-level season.
Several clubs had reportedly shown interest in drafting Mouncey, who is 1.90 metres tall (6ft 2in).
The league ruled her out due to the advantage her physical strength and stamina would have over opponents in the newly formed semi-professional competition, but left the door ajar for this year’s draft as it finalises its gender diversity policy.
On Tuesday the AFL made a landmark recommendation clearing Mouncey to play in the country’s second-tier state competition.
The pioneering transgender player welcomed the decision but described the last four months of deliberation as a “circus”, with a lack of understanding in the science of gender transition.
“I welcome the AFL’s decision, and I look forward to hopefully playing this season,” Mouncey said in a Twitter statement.
But she added: “I will not and I think it would be highly inappropriate for me to thank the AFL for allowing me to do something open to every other Australian, which the science and the research has supported all along.”
The AFL in 2017 introduced a semi-professional national women’s league, which has been heralded as a pioneer for inclusivity in a traditionally male-dominated sport.
The national league said on Tuesday that it was still finalising its gender diversity policy, noting the International Olympic Committee was also reviewing its guidelines on trans participation.
It added the Australian Sports Commission and the Australian Human Rights Commission were also working on a framework for trans and gender participation in Australian sport more generally.
“We are committed to inclusion, and want all Australians to be able to play or participate in our game,” AFL inclusion and social policy manager Tanya Hosch said in a statement.
“These are complex issues and we are considering expert opinion, international frameworks and feedback from the communities that are impacted by our decisions.”