Folau Gender Inclusion LGBTIQ Opinion Religion Rugby League Rugby Union Sport Transgender Transitioned sports woman

Memo to Rugby Australia’s panel: Why this rugby playing trans woman journalist says Folau needs to go

As a transgender woman who played representative women’s rugby union and rugby league [NSW women’s ‘True Blue’ player number #107] over a decade ago I digested news about Israel Folau’s hearing at Rugby Australia’s Moore Park headquarters with interest over the weekend.

Early in April he made the statement on his Instagram post “those that are living in sin will end up in Hell unless you repent”.

According to the religious Wallaby “drunks, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, athiests, idolators and homosexuals” have an appointment to meet the devil.

He labelled LGBTIQ people as a one fit for all as “homosexuals” due to his own limited education on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Also, due to his own lack of education Folau believes being LGBTIQ is a behavioural issue and he totally overlooked the fact Rainbow people are inherently born this way and we didn’t choose the way we’re born in a similar manner to anyone who has innate and inherent characteristics of their having blue eyes or being left-handed, etc.

I mean Izzy would have people believe us Trans folk transition for fun, but who in their right mind’s going to change their gender on a whim for the fun of it in such a resistant to change and still largely un-enlightened society?

He simply has to go, as his judgemental and out of touch social media posts, including another from his twitter account criticising gender becoming an option in Tasmania after it was passed through the state legislature in early April are divisive and cause so much pain for the Rainbow community.

Transgender youth attempt suicide at the staggering rate of 48 per cent.

Ian Roberts has gay people covered and said on channel 9’s Sports Sunday, “LGBTIQ people are five times more likely to die of suicide than the general population and 16 per cent before the age of 25 have attempted suicide twice.”

That’s a staggering rate for confused and anxious young LGBTIQ kids who are trying to safely navigate a still somewhat judgemental society in 2019.

Despite Folau’s demonising of anyone who’s different to him in relation to their own sexual orientation and gender identity issues, he’s had a groundswell of support by his Pacific Islander and religious brethren who play for the Wallabies.

Some of his teammates say religious freedom has been squashed and their mate Izzy should be able to sprout what he wants on social media without consequences, but from experience I know how difficult it is to play alongside teammates due to them having a similar mindset.

Especially when my transgender status came to the fore when my representative coach outed me to all and sundry in the women’s rugby community.

My Pacific Islander club mates would pray in a circle before games and espouse how they didn’t want to hurt anyone before each match, but for me, they bullied me mercilessly at training that year and it all came to a head when seven of them ganged up on me at training.

I followed my coach’s instructions of American baseball star Jackie Robinson’s lead and ignored them for almost an hour until I snapped.

As I chased down the main perpetrator, they ambushed me and one player held my hands behind my back, as the other six individually rushed in and in quick succession threw a punch to my head.

Caroline Two Blues

It was all pre-planned and they’d decided before training they would goad me into a fight.

Fortunately, two of my Islander teammates, who were also religious, did stand up for me and stopped further physical assault. Without attempting to be melodramatic if  Ramona (Tai) and Leah hadn’t stepped in that day, things may have become uglier and my life may have been in danger that evening.

Afterwards, my club coach told me it was all my fault [and once again the victim became the perpetrator due to my lesser status] for standing up for myself and I should have turned a blind eye and followed Robinson’s lead when faced with similar circumstances in the 1960s.

I did try, but when people are at you for a sustained period of time with constant goading about not putting in at training and other judgements throughout that season, and despite the fact I had a protruding disc [back] injury at the time, it was very difficult not to react.

I was being vilified and harassed by them simply for being true to myself but due to their religion they didn’t see it that way, as they saw me as a lesser person in the same manner as Folau does.

I did leave that team the following season and went to rivals Sydney University.

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When we played against them that season, they had a bet of $25 pre-game to see who could cause the most damage to me.

One player came in and put her knees into my back in the second half and the match erupted.

Parramatta - 2008

Fortunately, my Uni teammates stood up for me to a player and my former teammates never tried it on again when we played against them over the next three seasons I played in the Sydney competition.

The player who caused that kerfuffle has since apologised to me after coming out as  lesbian a few years ago and she said she was “ashamed” of her actions and she was simply trying to be “popular among our teammates”.

So, as can be seen Izzy, I’ve already spent a portion of my rugby career playing in Hell, so you sending me there [if it exists at all?] couldn’t be any worse the second time around.

Maybe Folau and his teammates are similarly trying to appease their religious cohorts and despite them believing people like me are full of the devil, a more scientific society is now changing to be more inclusive and the Folau’s of the world will eventually have to  change with the times.

Besides, kids, no matter their gender identity and sexual orientation, should be allowed every opportunity cishet kids get.

They shouldn’t have to hide who they are despite judgements from naysayers in  suspected hypocrite in Alan Jones     and the man who doesn’t get that homophobia and transphobia is every bit as bad as racism in Anthony Mundine.

With all due respect if he was born in another time and place it might be him and his mate Folau who might have been wrongly judged simply due to the colour of their skin.

If Mundine had been as marginalised as he says he has, then you’d think he’d have far more empathy for others.

As for Mark Latham, he appears to be simply a conservative, knuckle dragging and headline grabbing mysogynistic thug.

The Labor Party was wise to dispense of him years ago.

If you listen to those three you’d think it was the gay community who had attacked Folau and the perpetrator had become the victim and to prove my theory Folau blocked me on Twitter simply for calling him out the last time he tweeted his judgements.

I know he sees sees me as a lesser person, as I don’t follow his narrow doctrine, although I did until I was 30, due to religious and societal constraints making me believe my being Transgender was a sickness from within.

To the panel of three, I believe they’re some of the most grandiose, self-centred and self-entitled cuckoos backing Folau and that’s why he has to go, as any other result will allow the same old boring judgements and rhetoric from the religious right under the mantra of ‘free speech’.

I ask those same conservative commentators and more, why don’t you espouse your “free speech” to Tyrone Unsworth and Leelah Alcorn? … oh you can’t, you see, as they took their own lives due to similar bullying  and vilification at school and an unaccepting and misgendering family in Alcorn’s case.

Those poor kids couldn’t deal with cruel judgements which were not only condoned, but expected due to unfair rhetoric from some of the people from the top end of town who had similar self-entitled views.

Let “kids be kids” our Prime Minister said, but only if you fit the ‘good old Aussie narrative’. 

If not, best you be thrown them out with the bath water in his and his conservative mates eyes.

Bring on a change of inclusive Government I say.

Ahead of our Federal election, I do worry, however, as Rugby Australia and the panel of three stall at a decision, waiting for public opinion to turn in Folau’s favour, as they let him slip off the hook? Time will tell?

Exchange LGBTIQ  for race and it’d be done and dusted: he’d be sacked without a second thought and we’d be moving onto the World Cup without him.

To Nick Farr-Jones I’m disappointed an otherwise intelligent man such as yourself believes people like me and Roberts are sinners simply for owning our truth.

“Hate the sin, love the sinner” you say. Well I say to hell with that, as I still remember those punches landing on my face!

Possibly Roberts who believes discriminatory behaviour is largely taught by bigoted elders summed it up best.

“Being gay is healthy when you’re happy with it, it’s wonderful. It’s the negatives [from society] which create problems for gay kids.”

It should be a no-brainer, he says, that when family and friends are supportive about an individual’s sexuality or sexual identity, with no negative connotations aired, kids – and even adults – will be more comfortable with themselves.

“I was always comfortable with my sexuality,” he said, but wishes he – and others – could have been more open about their sexuality at school. “Since I’ve left school, two of my mates have become screaming queens. I would have never come home if I knew they were,” he joked.

And unlike Folau and his conservative mates beliefs, the former NRL enforcer is aware you don’t catch being gay or trans like you catch the common cold.

This is why Folau has to go, as he and his rhetoric are so out of touch in times which are a changing.

Any other result I suspect will mean Rugby Australia bleeding sponsors at an alarming rate and many disenfranchised rugby fans including me will follow suit and simply walk away from the code.

ARL Commission chairman Peter Beattie confirmed the NRL won’t be taking him back … bring on the rugby league I say! @CarolineLayt

Crisis support and suicide prevention, Lifeline: 131114

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