Have you ever had a dream you were so close to achieving, only for it to be snatched away at the last minute? Hannah Mouncey has been through hell and back this week, all because she dared to dream to play women’s AFL at the highest level.
Whether you think it’s fair she plays or not, it’s hard to argue that the agonising wait she had to endure just to learn of the AFL’s decision wouldn’t have been tough for her.
Mouncey is a transgender athlete with a long-term love of sport. Before transitioning in 2015, she was playing in the Australian men’s handball team. She would then go onto play several games in the ACT women’s AFL competition in 2017.
She had her sights set on entering the national competition. She had the skills, the knowledge, the passion. But her fate in the game was squarely in the hands of a group of AFL commissioners. And this week, they announced their decision. Mouncey was declared ineligible for the ALFW draft, and therefore denying her entry into the AFLW national competition in 2018.
In a statement, the AFL outlined that their decision was based around the "maturity" of the AFLW competition and Mouncey's individual circumstances. They said Mouncey was involved in the process, and that they sought advice from the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission’s guidelines. It is, of course, illegal to discriminate someone based on their gender identity.
However, the act does include an exception, allowing for organisations to exclude a person if their "strength, stamina or physique" is relevant.
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And this appears to be what the AFL counted on. In fact, the precise wording reappears in the AFL's statement: "The subcommittee carefully considered all of the information provided by Hannah, as well as the available data on transgender strength, stamina, physique along with the specific nature of the AFLW competition."