Brisbane riverside city, is the capital of Queensland, eastern Australia –
Ellia Green realized as a child – long before becoming an Olympic champion – that a person’s identity and the gender assigned at birth can be very different.
Now, about 20 years later, one of the stars of the women’s rugby team that won a gold medal at the 2016 Olympics has turned to compete for men.
Green, who has kept the name, told the Associated Press it was the best decision of his life. Realizing that sharing his experience could be a lifesaver for others is what prompted Green to release a video that will be shown on Tuesday to participants at an international summit on grading. end homophobia and homophobia in sports. The summit is being held in Ottawa as part of the Bingham Cup rugby league.
The only people to win Olympic gold medals for transgender or other gender diversity are Caitlyn Jenner and Quinn, who have only a single name and were part of Canada’s winning women’s soccer team at the Olympic Games. Tokyo last year.
Seeing so few transgender athletes at the elite level and so many negative comments on social media, especially since World Rugby’s decision to ban transgender women from playing women’s rugby, Green has pushed to emphasize the harm such things can do to some children.
Most importantly, it’s an attempt to draw attention to a serious health problem – some studies say more than 40% of transgender youth have contemplated suicide.
The 29-year-old Green admits to being in a “dark place” after retiring from rugby at the end of 2021.
“This is what happened to me,” Green told the AP. “Pretty much my rugby career ended and I had to go in and out of mental health facilities because of serious problems. My depression took a new level of sadness.”
Now, he’s in a much better place with his partner, Vanessa Turnbull-Roberts, and their young daughter, Waitui.
“Vanessa is pregnant and had to go to the hospital for a check-up,” Green said. “I’ve been through bad times. That was the last time I wanted her to see me like that. But the only way to help heal is to talk about it… I want to help someone who doesn’t feel that way. isolated by telling My Story.”
The story is a difficult one sometimes. Green, who was designated female at birth, was adopted by Yolanta and Evan Green and moved to Australia from Fiji at the age of 3. Recalling later childhood memories of domestic violence, from witnessing Yolanta being abused in another relationship, Green said “caused a lot of long. – permanent trauma.”
“I guess from witnessing that, I knew from a young age that it wasn’t (the type) of relationship I wanted, but it shaped me how a woman should be treated. come on,” Green said. “I believe that even through traumatic circumstances there is a lot to learn from it.”
It was also a childhood that for Green was marked by an overwhelming realization.
“As a kid, I remember thinking I was a boy in public, I cut my hair short and whenever we met new people, they thought I was a boy,” Green said. “I was always wearing my brother’s clothes, playing with tools and running around shirtless. Until I grew breasts, and I thought “Oh no”.”
“My mom would dress me up in girly clothes… I always wanted to make her happy, so if she wanted me to wear a dress, I’d wear a dress.”
Yolanta also helped get Green into the sport, and excellence as a sprinter in athletics eventually led to a career in professional rugby. The all-around seven-match rugby format made its Olympic debut in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 and the women’s competition held its first, with Australia beating New Zealand in the final to claim its first gold medal. . Green, a flying winger, is one of the stars of the show.
Meanwhile, however, deeper feelings are becoming more apparent for Green and actually culminated in the announcement of his decision to retire from rugby last November, a few months after missed the selection for the Australian women’s team for the delayed Tokyo Olympics.
“I spent a lot of time after finishing my Australian rugby career just indoors, in a dark room, I didn’t have the confidence to see anyone,” Green said in the pre-recorded video. conference.
“I’m ashamed of myself, I feel like I’ve let a lot of people down, especially myself and my mom. I feel like a complete failure, it’s heartbreaking,” Green added, explaining. about the feelings left behind after being eliminated from the Olympics. team. “One thing that keeps me optimistic is that I have surgery and treatment planned for my transition. That’s something that I’m counting down the days with with my partner.”
Green now wants to campaign for others, highlighting the harm that can be caused when sports bans are introduced and how such policies can amplify negativity towards transgender and diverse people. gender.
“Banning transgender people from sports is shameful and hurtful,” Green said. “It just means suicide rates and mental health problems will get even worse.”
Green’s comments coincided with the release of a study by the University of British Columbia in Canada and Monash University in Melbourne, Australia that found no association between rugby leaders and women who play rugby. sex. The survey found that while about 30% of women think transgender women have an unfair advantage, they are not at all in favor of banning transgender athletes from rugby.
Playing rugby at any level, or even coaching, is not currently in Green’s sights. He currently works at Sydney International Container Terminal – “on the wharfs”, he said, – but is also studying for an undergraduate degree in international security and has ambitions to become a consultant to companies. on network security in general and network security.
For now, Green says he’s a “full-time dad, and it’s hard, maybe harder” than anything he’s done. He also credits his partner Vanessa, who has a law degree and is now doing a PhD – “she inspires me every day.”
Green hopes her story will inspire other transgender people to believe in their decisions about who they want to be.
“I just knew it would be the most liberating feeling when I went through that surgery and was in the body I knew I had to be,” Green says in the video. “It was a spark in my mind during the dark times of facing the devil, but I knew there was light at the end of the tunnel.”
He added in a phone interview with the AP: “I know something that will make me really happy is, number 1, I’m going to live the rest of my life with my partner and daughter. And that I will live the rest of my life as her father.”