Transgender AFL player alleges vilification

ELIZABETH JACKSON: It’s been a controversial week for the AFL (Australian Football League), with the sport’s administrators facing allegations of a culture of casual racism.

At a local level, some players say they too face vilification.

In Broken Hill, a transgender player says she was abused on the field because of her sex change.

Will Ockenden reports.

WILL OCKENDEN: Kirsti Miller is a transgender footballer playing for the Souths in Broken Hill’s women’s AFL competition.

KIRSTI MILLER: Basically being transforming from a male body to a female body since early 2000, where I started hormone treatment.

WILL OCKENDEN: She says during her 48 years on earth, she’s played all types of sports from rugby league to swimming.

Kirsti Miller says she played her first AFL game about a month ago, becoming Broken Hill’s first transgender footballer.

She says while most people have accepted her onto the field, other’s haven’t.

KIRSTI MILLER: One particular comment was said to me about my genitalia from one opponent of mine and I had a couple of girls call me ‘it’ and then at the end of the game it was reported to me by my captain that things were said like ‘hey don’t touch number 30 you’ll catch diseases’.

This type of thing is just not acceptable. It’s 2013.

WILL OCKENDEN: Kirsti Miller says she’s legally been a female for the last seven years, and while she’s used to a negative comments, it shouldn’t happen during sport.

KIRSTI MILLER: There’s a lot of difference between sledging and telling people that they’re going to catch a disease by just touching someone. I just can’t cop it, you know – that’s ridiculous.

But hey, it won’t stop me playing on the football field because 99 per cent of the people in this town of Broken Hill and the other players are awesome people.

WILL OCKENDEN: It’s been a controversial week for the AFL at a national level.

Eddie McGuire caused a furore on Wednesday by suggesting footballer Adam Goodes be involved in the promotion of the musical ‘King Kong’.

AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou told ABC Melbourne that casual vilification is a more serious problem than many choose to believe.

ANDREW DEMETRIOU: I think we heard Harry O’Brien say the other day – and full credit to Harry – he identified this issue around the sort of casualness, and this commentary.

And it does exist and I’ve got to say, it doesn’t’ just relate to issues around racism, it’s a casualness of other comments. It’s a casualness about people’s weight; it’s a casualness about people’s religion.

WILL OCKENDEN: At a local level, transgender footballer Kirsti Miller says similar issues exist.

KIRSTI MILLER: There’s many Aboriginal people that play sport; there’s many transgender, gay, lesbian, disabled people that play – anyone of a difference, on a playing field, we should be protected.

This is ignorance, this is downright vilification without any doubt, and if the people are identified I hope they’re banned from the game.

WILL OCKENDEN: AFL Broken Hill put out a press release earlier in the week, saying it had sent letters to local clubs reminding them of its vilification policy.

It told the clubs of the local incident, and asked them to make sure the players and spectators were aware of the rules.

Saturday AM repeatedly tried to contact a spokesperson for AFL Broken Hill, but no one from the league was available for an interview.

ELIZABETH JACKSON: Will Ockenden with that report.



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