|Michael (ftmichael) wrote in f_t_m,|
@ 2009-06-29 12:29:00
|Current music:||Absolute Radio|
Australia: Transsexual takes to the footy field
Transsexual takes to the footy field
June 7, 2009
Will, 25, who has been living as a man for two years, hopes to play competition football. Photo: Simon O'Dwyer
LIKE many young Victorian males, Will loves his footy. He dreams of joining the thousands of men who lace up their boots every weekend and play in amateur competitions. He's just like them in every way but one — he was born female.
When the 25-year-old takes to the field he will become Australia's first female-to-male transsexual to play competitive football in a men's team.
"I'm just an ordinary guy who wants to play football, just with slightly different circumstances of how I came to be a guy," he says.
The passionate Collingwood fan has been given the green light to join a country football club, spurred on by former Pies captain Nathan Buckley who told him, "Don't be afraid to be yourself."
Will, who does not want to give his full name, recently met Victorian Country Football League officials to ask if he was eligible to play for one of their clubs. He also wanted to ensure he would be protected from abuse on the field.
At the meeting last month, VCFL chief executive Glenn Scott told him he could play, but for insurance purposes he would have to legally change the gender on his birth certificate to male. Scott has promised to educate players on transgender issues in a bid to ensure Will is not vilified.
Will, who hopes to play in the Bendigo Football League, does not want special treatment and says he expects to take the same knocks as other players. "If I get winded they'll probably turn around and say, 'Well, see, you play with the boys and that's what you're up against,' " he says.
His quest has been backed by Buckley, who told The Sunday Age he was "knocked over" by a "touching" letter from Will who, after reading the footy legend's autobiography All I Can Be, wrote to him about his dream of playing football and his struggle to be accepted as a man.
"It was like he was pouring his heart out to me and I felt compelled to let him know that I respected the fact that he trusted me with that stuff," Buckley said. "I just think it's tremendously courageous. Everyone should be encouraged to be themselves."
Will has been living as a man for more than two years, taking male hormones to help deepen his voice and boost hair growth. After assessment from psychiatrists at the Monash Medical Centre's gender dysphoria clinic, he was referred for a bilateral mastectomy in November last year and is saving up for a hysterectomy.
Once his reproductive organs have been removed, under Victorian law, he will be able to change his gender officially to male. Female-to-male transsexuals are not required to have a penis surgically attached to legally change their gender status.
The clinic has been under scrutiny after its director resigned amid legal action from former patients who say they were misdiagnosed as being transgender. But Will says he was happy with his treatment and the assessment process was thorough. He does not want genital surgery because he feels the technology is not advanced enough to create a functioning penis.
From the age of seven he wanted to be male, and since his transition from female to male, he has longed to play football. "I thought, well, if fat blokes who are in their 40s are playing football, surely I can. The only thing stopping me is other people's prejudice," he said.
Will, who is a graphic designer, has the support of his family and his female partner, whom he met before his transition. His request to play football comes a week after the AFL announced it had expanded its anti-discrimination rules to ban vilification on the basis of a person's sexual orientation, preference or identity.
Scott says he hopes Will will be welcomed into whichever club he chooses to join.
Will has given himself to the end of the year to bulk up in the gym before he approaches clubs for pre-season selection next year.
Under AFL rules, girls cannot play football with boys after they turn 14. But Scott insisted that accepting Will into the competition did not constitute a double standard. "If he's legally and medically certified to be a male, from that point on that's all that matters. We're very impressed by him … he's just a guy who wants to have a game of footy."