Australia: Australian Football League cannot play equality card when denying transgender footballer Hannah Mouncey

Australian Football League's last-minute decision to deny Hannah Mouncey the right to nominate for the 2018 AFLW draft is a significant step backwards in any self-professed claim the league has to inclusiveness. It amounts to a serious and damaging about-face for an organisation that so recently threw its support behind the marriage equality campaign in an effort to demonstrate its respect for all LGBTI people involved in the game, including its players.

The AFL has shown clear disrespect to Mouncey in the timing of the announcement. The AFL has been aware of her desire to be drafted since at least 23 June – when Melbourne inquired as to her availability – but waited until the last possible moment (late afternoon on the day before the draft) to make the announcement. There had been talks of an injunction to the draft if Mouncey was denied the right to be drafted, but the timing of the announcement means such a move is impossible. Compounding matters is the fact that – at this late stage – Mouncey has no possibility of appeal.

From the official press release, it was unclear why the adjudicating panel – comprising the AFL commissioner, Jason Ball, and Gabrielle Trainor, Simone Wilkie, Tanya Hosch and Andrew Dillon – had denied Mouncey the right to nominate. The statement said the decision “took into account the stage of maturity of the AFLW competition, its current player cohort and Mouncey’s individual circumstances”.

The AFL subsequently clarified it was concerned about the disparity in body size and bulk that Mouncey may have over the existing AFLW cohort after only a year of semi-professional training. It also confirmed she “may nominate for future AFLW drafts and for registration in other Australian football competitions”. Read more via Guardian