A firm friendship forged through a common love of running

April 30, 2018

By Caroline Layt

One close friendship, is the one UTS Norths sprinters Jackie Bezuidenhout and Kylie Strong have forged through training together in their pursuit of athletic excellence.


Bezuidenhout is only one year older than Strong, so they are rivals eighty per cent of the time over a five-year-age-group-cycle. The exception is when Bezuidenhout enters a new age group and leaves Strong behind in the younger age group for one year.

Both women are world champions and are coached by 1972 Munich and 1980 Moscow 100 metre Olympic hurdler, Penny Gillies.

Gillies also represented at the 1970 Edinburgh Commonwealth Games.

After retiring from athletics, Gillies has coached many Australian track and field representatives over the years, including Beijing 2008 Olympic 400 metre semi-finalist Joel Milburn. She also coached the national men’s 4 x 400 metre relay team to gold medal success at the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games.

Gillies (pictured) has also passed on her expertise to Bezuidenhout and Strong and their performances have improved over time.


The fact Bezuidenhout and Strong are older athletes training with open age athletes in Gillies squad, means they spend a considerable amount of time together at their training base at Rotary Athletic Field and they acknowledge how one has aided the other’s development. 

Strong was glowing in her praise of Bezuidenhout, as she told Hatch, “I’ve had a lot of wonderful friendships over the years, but it’s taken me until this time in my life to find my best friend (in Bezuidenhout).

“Jackie’s such a wonderful person; she’s so caring and kind.”

Bezuidenhout gives a glimpse into their training environment as she told Hatch, “We get along so well, Kylie trains so hard and we push each other along.”

Another world champion sprinter in Gianna Mogentale competed against them at the NSW Masters Athletics Championships at Blacktown’s International Sports Centre and this made for one very competitive age group over the 60, 100 and 200 metre sprint races.

Despite their close friendship, both women have a fierce competitive streak with each other and this was borne out on the 200 metre state final. Strong won the race convincingly and looked fresh immediately after the race, whereas Bezuidenhout was quick to analyse what went wrong and were she can improve.

Bezuidenhout turned the tables in the 60 metre sprint even though both athletes dead heated in a time of 8.56 seconds.


Bezuidenhout sets herself very high standards and she had a grin from ear-to-ear after her victory in the 60 metres sprint.

“It’s important I win at least one of those races, otherwise I am disappointed with myself”, Bezuidenhout told Hatch.

The friendship and competitive juices will continue to flow between the two athletes before they head to Perth to compete Australian Masters Athletics Championships in April, followed by the World Masters Athletics Championships in Malaga, Spain later this year.

Photo gallery below:

C8BBFE27-C604-4E91-AB2D-7999615038F2Women’s 50-54 years sprinters Jackie Bezuidenhout (ANSW number 410) and Kylie Strong (ANSW number 421) lightheartedly joke around pre warm-up  with photo-bomber W 45-49 years sprinter Richelle Ingram.

E7DB0686-1224-48AE-A384-A0348AE06221After warm-up both sprinters are focussed on the task at hand as they are confirmed as starters and given their lane draw by the Athletics NSW official.


Strong walking back to her mark after undertaking a run-through prior to the 100m final.

EFA0744A-7F38-46EB-88E2-DD00B0635E69Bezuidenhout looks down the track, contemplating her 100 metre journey ahead, while Strong walks back to the start line after completing a run-through.

C9A1DFDC-3676-41CB-BEF4-AF137A946CD8The sprinters have been called to their marks by the starter, as the women’s 50 years shot-putters warm up for their own competition in the background.

After the 100 metre final, Strong joins the shot-putters for a credible 4th placing.


They’re off and running and world champions Gianna Mogentale (far left), Strong (centre) and Bezuidenhout (far right) lead the field out in a very competitive race. Strong’s victorious on this occasion, with Bezuidenhout second and Mogentale third.

88CCB838-8193-463E-A342-EFAE635698DDStrong cheers on Bezuidenhout as she breaks the NSW W50-54 years 300 metre hurdles record by 20 seconds.

4997AF2A-1CA6-431A-B29D-7F3D07F8A6E1ANSW official George Jankowski (who’s also a masters athlete) hoses down the long jump pit before the W50-54 years competition. Bezuidenhout with W45 years athlete and friend Maria Cimino in tow and Strong are seen conversing with others to Jankowski’s left.

12CAF823-FD88-47CF-B42A-A5F3B450C8E7Bezuidenhout and Cimino take advantage of the shade on a very hot day before the long jump competition.


Check-in and roll call before the long jump competition gets underway.



Bezuidenhout long jumping on her way to winning the Women’s W50 years competition.


Winners are grinners – Kylie Strong – after the 200m


Jackie Bezuidenhout in reflective mood after the 200 metres.


Bezuidenhout wins the 60m sprint in a dead-heat with Strong, while Mogentale’s a few paces back in third spot.


Coach Penny Gillies was happy with both Strong and Bezuidenhout’s athletic performances over the weekend.


Winners are grinners 2: Bezuidenhout and W45 years sprinter Cimino enjoying themselves after they performed so well at these championships.

Below: Bezuidenhout and Strong are still masters track buddies after the championships and were back training together the following Monday.






A portfolio of published LGBTIQ articles by Commonwealth Games Pride House ‘Walk of Fame’ Trailblazers journalist Caroline (Caz) Layt

Caroline Layt @ Macleay College - journalism student

Caroline Layt @CarolineLayt

Hatch@Macleay (edited by Macleay College lecturer and Hatch editor Tony Kleu):

Caroline Layt speaks with sporting identities Ian Roberts and Kirsti Miller about how the same-sex marriage survey may change their lives.

Opinion: An open letter to Donald Trump on transgender rights

Cool beer, hot air, furphies and pointless bickering

Outsports:Transgender rugby player got a shot at the pros before she lived her full truth

Other published articles: Next Media-Inside Sport-The Women’s Game










Man rescued after jumping off Iron Cove bridge this morning

December 24, 2017

By Caroline Layt

A man has jumped off Balmain’s Iron Cove bridge into the Parramatta River and was rescued by a woman who swam out and brought him ashore this morning.

A witness who happened to be walking by at the time said she heard a splash which made her turn around.

She told Cazio, “After I looked around I saw the man bobbing about in the water.

“Three women were at the top of the stairs and one jumped into save him.

“He appeared conscious as she brought him ashore to the beach under the bridge.

“It’s not good for someone to jump off the bridge into the water.

“I hope he is ok?”

Not long after emergency services including water police, fire and police arrived and treated the man at the scene.

Lifeline 131314.

French paradox contributes to athletes’ success in France as portion size is key


Photo by Caroline Layt of Australian teammate Janet Naylon looking at those lovely French pastries and desserts through the window of a local patisserie in Clermont-Ferrand

By Caroline Layt
October 18, 2017

It was a great evening in Clermont-Ferrand, France. I had made my first finals at world masters championships level in the hammer and weight throws and had ran well in my 60 metre heat, setting a season’s best – 8.96 seconds in qualifying for the semi-finals.

My track buddies had also done well in their events, so a few of us decided to go out and celebrate. When in Rome, do as the romans do, or in this instance substitute roman for french, so where else, but off to a French restaurant.

The main course was lovely and the French wine I allowed myself went down a treat at the restaurant titled 1492 due to the building’s construction date being of that year.

After mains fellow sprinter Janet and distance runners Stuart and John decided to have dessert.

When training for major athletics championships such as a world championships, much effort goes into preparation and dessert, chocolate and all good things in life are either banished or consumed in much smaller quantities.

Dessert was the priority after being disciplined for so long and our anticipation was at boiling point. I chose crepes with rich vanilla ice cream wrapped and sealed inside. A lovely warm fudge chocolate sauce generously sat atop the crepes.

I enjoyed my dessert immensely and still remember it as one of my most enjoyable dining experiences to this day.

My and other peoples’ experiences of the French diet is what makes it so interesting, as they have croissants and baguettes as part of their breakfast menu. They are world renowned for their rich cuisine and yet so many French people are svelte and France has the lowest obesity rates among the western world.

The French diet does have its extravagances, but what it does do well is that all food groups are covered and portions are small, unlike the American larger portioned diet.

According to NDTV Smart Cooky: people in France tend to savour their meals and studies have shown that eating fast may lead to eating more as it takes about 15 minutes for your brain to recognise your stomach is full. This means the French penchant for eating slowly can prevent overeating.

French people tend not to eat to excess, which brings us to – the French paradox – the only western country known for the butter in its pastry crust and the thin citizens who consume it.

Visitors have wondered how the French do it, while they force themselves to sweat away working out or deprive themselves of the simple pleasures in life to maintain their svelte figure. There are no such requirements for French women, as the media and popular culture has played its part where it is not seen as sinful to eat and drink delicacies such as cheese, wine and chocolates.

The media and popular culture portrayal of French culture

Women eating the above type of foods is not seen as indulgent, but as a right. As an article in Vogue magazine written by Ashley Schneider states, “Dignity and mystique cloak the French woman, as she savors her steak-frites. There are no food items banned from her palate, no sinful dishes demanding a stiff workout hours later. Instead she abides by a simple, natural set of guidelines. Ones that understand true pleasure.”

French women choose quality over quantity and the ingredients are always second to none, e.g. a few pieces of quality dark chocolate is chosen over a large bowl of ice cream.

Emilia Petrarca wrote in W Magazine, “Such is the root of the “French girl myth” which has captured the imaginations of fashion publications, brands, and popular culture writ large ever since the days of Coco Chanel, and maybe even as far back as Marie Antoinette. We find ourselves wanting to do everything “like a French girl”, simply because there is a way French girls do things.

Through French fashion icons and actors like Brigitte Bardot and Francoise Hardy and the movies that made them famous – An American in Paris and Amelie, American women see their French counterparts as having the “innate ability to possess superior style, smaller waists, clearer skin, more complex neckties, cooler social lives, and richer romance than the rest of us-and all the while putting in little to no effort”, she writes.

In essence Petrarca feels American media and popular culture like it that way. Americans feel they are free and yet they still crave to be told what to eat and how to dress and this is what makes the French way so appealing; due to their living by a different set of rules.

The French diet and way of life will always be present, as the media through articles such as those above and popular culture remain fascinated with all things French.

The Aussie silver bullets and French team certainly benefitted from the French diet

As for our 4 x 200 metre relay team – nicknamed the silver bullets in setting an Australian open indoor record 1.49.98 at those 2008 championships. We bought into local culture, food and way of life and it certainly didn’t do us any harm while we were in France in winning that silver medal and setting our new aussie record.

As well as we did, the French diet certainly didn’t hurt the French team, as they did one better – world champions with a newly minted gold medal.

Photo below by Stuart Paterson – Women’s 40 years 4 x 200 metre relay team medallists: France, Australia and Germany, WMACI Clermont-Ferrand, March 2008. Silver medal Australian team back row: L to R Caroline Layt, Jackie Bezuidenhout, front row Marie Kay and Janet Naylon (AR)


Hannah Mounsey – out and out discrimination – AFLW Draft

My Sydney and NSW representative jumpers and trophy and medal collection won playing women’s rugby league and union when my trans status was hidden:


My collection of trophies and representative jerseys once my transgender status was known:


Hannah Mounsey, you are not alone. I was discriminated against as well playing the codes I love 🏉

Let’s raise a collection to fund Hannah’s legal bills in fighting AFL’s bigoted decision.

Reporting Government and Institutions Assignment 1 – Local Government Story Blacktown City Council’s 2036 strategic plan


Photos by Caroline Layt at Rouse Hill

October 11, 2017
Caroline Layt

Blacktown City Council has developed a strategic plan to cope with the state government’s directive to accommodate a larger population within its boundaries by 2036.

Blacktown’s mayor Stephen Bali says development of its CBD into high rise and semi-rural areas into suburbia within council boundaries is due to Sydney’s expanding population growth, which is fuelling the local economy with construction of new buildings, schools and shopping areas.

Mr Bali told Hatch, “Firstly the NSW state government has given a directive of increasing population in the Sydney basin.

“The State government expects Blacktown City population to exceed 520,000 by 2036.

“Blacktown City has been one of the fastest population growth centres in Australia for the past four decades.

“The local government responsibility is to see how we can manage it within the financial constraints we have.

He believes people have been accepting of the change from semi-rural to a suburban environment. Key concerns he pointed out is getting the infrastructure right; ie roads, schools, community centres, sporting facilities, etc, so as to make our great city a sustainable liveable city.

“In general, Blacktown City’s economy is approx. $16 billion and growing approx. 4% p.a. With some 120,000 jobs” he said.

In the Blacktown City Council strategic plan he explains further, “The release of land for development in our strategic plan our “Blacktown 2036” follows a program of extensive community engagement… it is not a council plan, rather it is your plan: shaped by the community and reflecting it’s opinions.

“It outlines how we will keep working to plan for our sustainability into the future.”

A recent poll was conducted by Fairfax Media and according to an article published in news.com.au 66.4 per cent of people surveyed have a contrary view and think the city is full.

They’d prefer development is pushed to the city’s fringes, as they fear overcrowding and lack of infrastructure.


Sandra Layt, a former secretary of the Hawkesbury Chamber of Commerce, fashion designer and pioneer of the turf industry during the 1970s has a similar view with those people surveyed.

Her rental property at Rouse Hill is less than one kilometre away from the near completed Cudgegong Station, which is the central hub of the Skytrain network.

Ms Layt told Hatch, “With all of the development going on, average Australians are struggling to buy properties and homes, simply because greedy developers and investment buyers are pricing them out of the marketplace through their collusion with state government and local councils and their policies.

“We’re losing our cultural identity.

“We were once a land of opportunity, but it’s becoming more difficult for people to start up from nothing like my generation (the baby boomers) did after the second world.

“It’s becoming clear now and in the future many people will simply exist with lack of opportunity and people don’t want that for their kids and future generations, hence the majority support (of the news poll survey) to halt future development.”


Penrith Panthers – Mountain men or chocolate soldiers?

July 25, 2017

As the sun glistens on a warm winter’s afternoon at Pepper Stadium at the foot of the Blue Mountains, the crowd is slowly building in anticipation of today’s first grade match between the Penrith Panthers and Manly Sea Eagles.

Being a home game, the crowd is predominantly decked out in Panthers supporters gear, which has had various changes in jersey design and colour schemes over the years from the chocolate soldiers of the 1970s and the licorice all sorts colours from their 1991 premiership year … to today’s jerseys. All mentioned are popular among the Panthers faithful.

The club has a very loyal following, but fans are often left disappointed, because the team is inconsistent – a problem summed up by the two nicknames they’ve acquired over the years: the Mountain Men and Chocolate Soldiers; due to their predominantly chocolate brown strip of the 1970s and ‘80s.

Hopes are high this year, as they were one match away from qualifying for the grand final last season and on the back of that promise… they were installed as joint competition favourites alongside the highly fancied Melbourne Storm and the Canberra Raiders for the 2017 season.

Despite the lofty expectations, they have failed thus far to consistently deliver on the paddock and the scoreboard.

Today they play the Manly Sea Eagles and unfolding on the field is the curtain-raiser, the Holden Cup fixture – a sponsored name for the youth competition, which is full of tomorrow’s rising stars. The young Panthers eventually lose the match 22-14 in a tight tussle to Manly.

The Holden Cup loss mirrors the 2017 first grade Panthers season. They have had several close losses, which has contributed to an inconsistent season. This is despite the Panthers having several Australian and NSW representatives in their squad and having being installed as joint competition favourites at the start of the year. Unfortunately, though, the Panthers have failed to live up to the hype and expectation placed upon them.

Real Sport editor, rugby league expert and podcast host of ‘Panthers Weekly with Strawbs & Teach’ Daniel Lang is a Panthers fan and he was asked for his thoughts on why the Panthers have struggled for consistency during the 2017 season?

Lang told Hatch, “I think the pre-season expectations from outside the club were a bit too high, particularly with two young halves (Matt Moylan and Ivan Cleary) running the show and a few boys have read their own headlines and believed the hype a bit too much as well.”

Lang also indicated the young halves would take time to gel, as they have been inconsistent, flashing their skill set some weeks and then being too introverted other weeks in not closing those matches out.

This season appears to mirror the Panthers early existence, as they have struggled for consistency. The western Sydney club has qualified for the finals series just 11 times during their 50 years. This statistic wasn’t helped by the fact Penrith was seen as an outpost of Sydney until the mid 1980s, which made it difficult to attract players.

Their first final series during the 1985 season was eighteen years in the making after they entered the competition during the 1967 season.

Since then, the Panthers have won two premierships – 1991 and 2003. They have qualified for the final series on eight other occasions. Due to their success, they are now known as the mountain men.

They are rarely seen as melting chocolate soldiers these days, but they were during their formative years of the 1970s. The tag was given to them by radio commentator Frank Hyde as a compliment, due to their chocolate brown jersey and the fact they played so hard that day “they didn’t melt like chocolate soldiers’.

Unfortunately it appears some unkind rival fans hijacked the term and used it whenever the Panthers didn’t play so well and they were thrashed on the scoreboard.

Jon Burndred was interviewed a week after the Manly match at the TAB betting agency, which is located in the bowels of Panthers. He is a lifelong local and Panthers fan.

Burndred said supporting the Panthers is a way of life for him and his friends. He mentioned some were away when he spoke to Hatch, as they had headed to Auckland to watch the game against the New Zealand Warriors the day before. He said, “They’d be here now if they weren’t away in New Zealand following the team.”

He has some fond memories of his own following Penrith, as he headed in on one of the few hundred supporters buses from Panthers to Homebush to watch the 2003 NRL grand final.

It was a triumphant day, as he drank champagne with the players in the function room afterwards. He had previously seen club legends like Greg Alexander, Royce Simmons, Mark Geyer, John Cartwright, Brad Izzard and their teammates win in ‘91 when he was nine, but the 2003 win was extra special, as he celebrated with the players – Craig Gower, Luke Lewis, Luke Rooney and Ryan Girdler and the rest of the squad.

Dave Watts is also a lifelong Panthers fan. He is also head of Telecommunications and Infrastructure at channel 7 and will be instrumental in the Rugby League World Cup broadcast in Australia.

Watts represented the Panthers as a 15-year-old-hooker in their junior underage teams during the 1980s before life, reality and work took over. He’s a little disappointed, along with wife Gabi that their team hadn’t been travelling as well as they had hoped at the start of the season.

Gabi, a schoolteacher by trade, is not immune to sporting success herself. She won the throws pentathlon gold medal, along with bronze in the shot put at the 2015 World Masters Athletics Championships in Lyon, France.

She said, “The whole family including sons Kurt and Jarryd support the Panthers, as we are proud locals. They can be frustrating to watch, as they can be inconsistent, but they are our team.

We’ll support them win, lose or draw. It’s the one thing we all love to do together as a family and season ticket holders. Kurt and Jarryd both attended St. Dominic’s College, one of the feeder schools for the Panthers.

Kurt went to school with Panthers winger Dallin Watene-Jelezniak, so there is a bond in knowing some of the players as well” Gabi explains.

During the first grade match, Kurt is disappointed with some of the refereeing decisions and shouts out “why” when a contentious decision goes against his team.

The Panthers end up with an 8-2 penalty count, as Ivan Cleary extends their lead 16-8 by way of a penalty goal. The Panthers take home the two points on the day and a week later they beat the New Zealand Warriors. They have now won the last five from seven matches and are only two points out of the top 8.

Lang, Burndred, the Watts family and Panthers fans everywhere can dare to dream and time will tell if the 2017 Panthers – their tribe – can once again become the mountain men they are now known as or whether their season fizzles out.

Whatever the verdict, it won’t be for lack of trying, as they emulate all of those hard working Panthers who have come before including the much maligned 1970s “Chocolate Soldier” Panthers players who did have very tough work and training ethics.

A transgender sportswoman’s take on Sam Newman and his ilks’ rants against Caitlyn Jenner and all things trans

Hearing about Sam Newman’s rant a fortnight ago where he demonised Caitlyn Jenner by referring to her as an ‘it’ on the AFL Footy Show highlights how far society has come and still has to go before transphobic comments disappear from sports shows and the like forever.

We have made progress, as people are now airing their disgust and calling out these narrow minded and blinkered views such as Newman’s for what they are. That is progress in itself.

What Newman said reminded me of a TV host who said disparaging remarks about transgender people playing women’s state of origin (women’s interstate rugby league challenge) almost a decade ago.

I sat there gobsmacked, as I watched the rugby league expert negatively critique Amelie Mauresmo by calling her transgender, while she played tennis on the APT circuit. He followed that up with, “That’s all we need is more transgenders like Mauresmo playing women’s State of Origin rugby league.”

My ears pricked up as I watched – disbelieving at the audacity of this fellow… Mauresmo is not even transgender, but he was in full swing, as the audience laughed along at his cheap shot … my shoulders slumped, as I realised he was not only talking about Mauresmo, but also me.

I felt terrible, as I was still in the closet, although I had transitioned some 15 years before. My whole reason of being able to represent New South Wales in rugby league and Sydney in rugby union was the fact I had kept my transgender status quiet.

More honours would have adorned if I wasn’t clumsy and self disclosed to someone whom I thought was an ally at the time.

When I first returned to sport post-transition (which by the way included hormone therapy, psychiatry sessions and surgery) after passing my gender tests, I had to keep my trans status hidden.

I was immediately cleared to compete against other women in sport as a masters track and field athlete, as I was found to have no advantage playing women’s sport.

Less than a year later I wanted a new challenge, so I decided to play rugby union, a decade after I had last played as a male athlete.

When I informed my club coach I was transgender, he told me to keep my mouth shut or I would never be selected in representative teams, despite being cleared by Athletics NSW to compete.

My test results after my max vo2 test (35.5 mlo2) were well within the female range. The tests were conducted by sports scientists and overseen by a sports doctor. They were in accordance with International Olympic Committee guidelines and protocols at the time.

That was 13 years ago and not surprisingly I followed my coaches instructions and achieved selection and played in the national tournament winning Sydney Women’s rugby union team that year.

Prior to transition I hid my female self and now post-transition I had to hide the first 30 years of my life, all because of views like the fellow had aired on his show.

I thought to myself how can he get away with demonising others? Even though I had achieved playing women’s rugby league and union, I was pretty obscure as women playing either code was an after-thought a decade ago and by that very definition, how could I even defend myself against this multi-media star?

I sat there feeling powerless and angry, as I had actually “met” this fellow a year or so before.

I had decided to help my women’s rugby league coach out, who doubled as an NRL Development Officer. I was in between jobs at the time, so I voluntarily put my hand up to help out with canteen duties for the kids rugby league gala day.

Said sports show host was in attendance as his kids were playing. When he looked my way from a distance, I smiled as I recognised him straightaway – a familiar friendly face from TV … or so I thought.

He gave me a deadpan look and then a look of trepidation and fear. He was scared out of his wits … it was as though I was covered in spiders.

I don’t know how the sports show host knew about my trans status, as I am not obviously read as trans and I don’t walk around with a sign on my forehead, but he appeared to know my trans status all the same.

Whatever the reason, he made me feel like absolute rubbish when I briefly locked eyes with him and again when I heard his rhetoric during his show approximately a year later.

It may not even have been aimed directly at me? He may have a problem with women rugby league players in general, due to their not fitting his ideal of how a woman should look, act or be?

Women playing footy pfft – you see, in this fellow’s eyes, women should be adornments and submissive and are seen as nothing more than objects.

What is even more disappointing is people who are seen as role models – ie sporting stars, appear to be among some of the most homophobic and transphobic people around.

It’s usually feminine qualities which are targeted as they are seen as lesser than and the perception is all gay men and transgender women are stereotyped and seen as weak characters due to the scapegoating of femininity and their pursuing their true selves. If you head in that direction than you are fair game from the conservative and far right-wing commentators.

I know this, as when my transgender status broke playing women’s sport, some people went out of their way to antagonise me on the sporting field.

I’m aware contact sport is about getting over the top of your opponent. It’s competitive by nature, but the underhanded stuff I never took part in. But obviously some did and still do once retired from the playing field.

Which brings me to Sam Newman. He and his rugby league equivalent appear to view women in a certain manner and Justin Smith wrote as much in his article in Rendezview, “It showed that people no longer copped this kind of bullying. And it just added to Newman’s image of a person who seems to think if you’re not watching footy, playing footy, talking footy, or you’re a sheila to shag, then you’re an “it”.”

Former NRL player Ian Roberts, who is still the only gay professional footballer in this country to have ever been out during the 1990s, echoed a similar sentiment in his 1995 autobiography, Finding Out, ‘ “I think concepts of manliness and femininity are warped. There are strengths of character and weaknesses. Why is femininity such a dirty word anyway? All men have qualities you could call feminine. It’s a pity a lot more guys aren’t allowed to be in touch with that side of themselves. The world would be a better place. And I’m not talking about men doing womanly things. I’m talking about understanding, sensitivity, gentleness. Not being so emotionally stiff.” ‘

AFL player Pat Dangerfield was quoted by Smith as calling Newman on the AFL Footy Show “irrelevant”. Newman fired back he was “not understanding the era of political correctness we now live in”.

Well Sam this former transgender athlete says get with the times buddy, as your rhetoric causes so much grief and forces transgender people to go underground. Which means the only way we can succeed in life is to hide who we truly are … I’m 51 now and so over that approach.

Anyway if that type of rhetoric was aimed at your lived-life, would you refer to it as political correctness? I sincerely doubt it. I’d say you’d act all indignant.

Fortunately Newman’s views and Margaret Court’s for that matter are now starting to be seen as tired and old school, as people are becoming more educated about LGBTIQ issues.

There seems to be a groundswell of people understanding and having empathy of being able to walk in our shoes and that is a great thing, as more and more transgender and gay people come out of the closet due to there being wider acceptance in mainstream society.

As for Caitlyn Jenner, well Newman may say nasty things about her, but I thank her … if it wasn’t for her I may be still in the closet, as she gave me the courage to come out to 600 Facebook friends. Since then, my life has for the most part been great (save for losing a few friends who thought I should not be so vocal) and I’ve drawn a line in the sand, as I’ve decided I’m never going back into that closet again.

As much as life is positive for me, Safe Schools statistics reveal four per cent of the population is transgender or intersex. The rhetoric aimed at the kids among this group is simply not on, as they should be able to grow up in a more enlightened world.

The ones who have to hide their true selves due to said rhetoric are the real victims here. In this day and age it’s not acceptable.

As for Newman and Court, one lives in hope they may one day have to change their ways and views, due to their being held to account, where their views are seen as old, stale, discriminatory and outdated.

*About me – to the best of my knowledge I’m the only transgender woman to have played in the women’s Interstate rugby league challenge, representing New South Wales during the 2007 season. I was selected again during the 2008 season, but I reluctantly withdrew from the team due to bone bruising of the knee.

I also won four ARU national women’s championship titles representing Sydney in women’s rugby union.

Prior to transition – I briefly played Shute Shield (first grade) rugby union for Eastern Suburbs when I was 20 during the 1986 season and first grade for Oakdale – Group 6 Country Rugby League 1991.

I’m a journalism student at Macleay College.