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Anything goes as IOC changes tact and Transitioned Sports Women’s health needs are caught in crosshairs of ideological TERF-LGBTQ wars

I’ve always believed in fairness in sport for all, no matter the circumstance and that’s why I never competed in women’s sport until late 2002, well after I’d finished my hormonal fuelled feminising transition in late 1998.

When I began my transition in late 1995 I reasoned that whatever I’d achieved as a male athlete pre-transition, well, that would be my ever-lasting sporting lot and epitaph!

Bearing in mind I was 30-years-of-age and in the prime of my life, but that didn’t matter to me, as transitioning to my true gender identity became my number one priority.

Back then, I had no idea how much hormones would transform my life, both physically and medically and how much muscle mass, strength and speed endurance I was about to lose.

I knew I’d be transformed to some degree, but it was all still a mystery to me and at that particular time I was no more informed than anyone else of the effects anti-androgens and oestrogen would have on a body that’d been souped up for over a decade with male quantities of testosterone.

But my fears, back then, should’ve been allayed, as fast-forward to early 2001, when I found out the 2002 Gay Games were being held in my home city of Sydney and my mindset had done a complete u-turn, as my body over that period of time, had significantly feminised and this allowed me to compete in the sport I first fell in love with as an eight-year-old youngster.

Running as an eight-year-child at Taren Point Primary School 1973. I also played in the U/10 TPPS rugby league team that year captained by my older brother Todd

I successfully went onto to compete at three WMACI’s (Clermont-Ferrand, France 2008, Kamloops, Canada, 2010, Budapest, Hungary, 2014, plus World Masters Games in Sydney, 2009 and World Outdoor championships in Perth, Australia, 2016) before Trans athletes came under greater scrutiny during the current Trans-TERF wars, which encompasses everything from social rights to women’s sports.

In 2008 we set the inaugural Australian open-age record; landing my teammates and I on the same page as household names in Cathy Freeman, Melinda Gainsford-Taylor, Sally Pearson and co.

Celebrating with my Aussie 4 x 200m relay teammates moments after we’d just won a silver medal and also on the podium after we’d been presented with our silver medals at World Masters Athletics indoor Championships, Clermont-Ferrand, 2008. The time we ran of 1;49.98 was an inaugural Australian open age record. It has since been broken by open age Aussie collegiate athletes, but is still the current W40 years record and is the fastest time run by an Australian Masters Women’s team at an indoors meet. Marie Kay (far left) and Janet Naylon (far right) couldn’t give two hoots I was Trans when we ran this relay event and when Jackie Bezuidenhout found out I was a trans Woman a few years later she also defended my right to play women’s sport. {Photos: Stuart Paterson}

Back then, the term Transgender Exclusionary Radical Feminist was in its infancy and when it came to Trans People competing in sport, well if you were like me and not so tall, ie a short-arse, 5ft7′ and even though I was of solid build, I fitted the cisgender female narrative rather well and escaped scrutiny.

In fact my father Keith Layt and late uncle Neville Layt (both pictured above) were well known jockeys from the 1950s-80s (Uncle Neville was also a horse trainer of note who won the Magic Millions with Karuta Queen) and even though I’m a “giant” by Layt standards and taller than both by a few inches, I was never going to be the tallest player in any team I played in pre or post-transition and after I’d competed Gay Games in November 2002, I followed in Ricki Coughlan’s footsteps, undertaking the gender tests set aside for me by Athletics NSW, which included a Max Vo2 test and non-invasive physical examination by a sports doctor.

My Max Vo2 test (35.5ml.O2 per minute – well within female range) and being allowed to compete in athletic competitions in 2003 by Athletics NSW and my sports doctor.

I’d already followed the Harry Benjamin guidelines adopted by the International Olympic Committee, which required Trans athletes live a minimum of two years as a female, undertaking hormone therapy: including oestrogen and anti-androgens (I took androcur during my transition period).

The final part of my gender transition culminated years before, when I had my gender confirmation surgery in Montreal, Canada in 1998 and that was the final part of the puzzle to me competing, as back then, one had to be fully transitioned and therefore had their gender confirmation surgery in order to compete.

This is an important point, as without reproductive organs, my body no longer naturally produced testosterone, except for the minute amounts my thyroid produced, which isn’t enough to maintain a healthy endocrine system, ie a healthy body and my receptors, which filter hormones throughout the body in much the same manner as a car’s filters distribute oil and fuel around the car’s engine and system, well they dried up over time, as they were no longer being supplied with female levels of testosterone and not only did my sporting prowess abandon me, but I possessed an unhealthy body that included weight gain, lethargy, no sexual desire and all the benefits my healthy body once possessed.

The opening of Pandora’s Box

In 2016 the rules changed, with non-op and pre-op transgender athletes being allowed to compete by the International Olympic Committee and in some cases these athletes were allowed to compete with barely one year’s supply of oestrogen and androgen blockers in their system.

Of course they were going to struggle to fit in, as the feminising process hadn’t quite taken its course and I hate to say it, but the result and ensuing controversy was predictable, as all hell broke loose when athletes such as Hannah Mouncey and Lia Thomas competed in women’s sport while transitioning and unfortunately it appears all Trans athletes – Transitioned or not – are only worthy of media attention when we’re controversial, as whatever we achieve in sport takes second place behind all that controversy.

Of course the ensuing media shit-storm that ensued is not of their fault nor their making, but it was so different to my experience and I only did the original tests with Athletics NSW as a safety measure should someone object to my sprinting as a female track and field athlete, but it never happened.

It only occurred when I was outed by my Sydney representative coach playing rugby, who I’d told in confidence (which he betrayed) and I was then badly bullied by club mates at Parramatta for a year or so (2005) before I switched to Sydney University and was left alone again after the 2006 season.

After I was outed in 2005 I had to show cause as to why I could continue to play on as a female athlete in rugby competitions.

I supplied all my paperwork, including my statutory declaration from my surgeon Dr Pierre Brassard from Canada, a letter from my endocrinologist, the late Professor Alfred Steinbeck, a copy of the 2003 IOC guidelines of women with a Transitioned history competing in sport and my clearance from the sports doctor and results from my MaxVo2 test.

I gave this information to my Parramatta Two Blues club coach and Sydney representative manager and told him to tell them, ie Sydney Women’s Rugby Union executive board, if I was banned from playing “I’d see them in court!”

Within 12 hours I was informed I was cleared to play on and the media was never aware of my story back then, as there was no controversy to my story.

Despite the fact I never won a premiership when I played in the Jack Scott: Sydney Women’s Competition I did manage to win four National Championships when I represented Sydney from 2004-08 and I never lost a match while I was a member of the Sydney First XV squads – 2004-05, 07-08 (Photos above from my scrapbook: Paul Seiser: SPA Images)

Despite my representing New South Wales in women’s State of origin rugby league (referred to as Women’s Interstate Challenge from 1999-2017) and Sydney at Rugby Australia Nationals (there was no NSW team back then, as both Sydney and NSW Country were prominent at Rugby Australia Nationals) and with the media still over a decade away from covering either code, my story only emerged after the International Rugby League banned all Trans Women from playing at last year’s IRL World Cup (even though no Trans Women were playing at that level) and the National Rugby League proposed banning of Trans Women from the NRLW, even though I’d already set a precedent fifteen years earlier.

I fitted in as a female athlete in every sense of the word and I definitely possessed no advantage in either code of football I played, as that had long dissipated years earlier.

The Left Winger recently spoke to fellow Transitioned Woman athlete Kristen Worley about her own post-transitioned sporting story.

Ms Worley took the IOC to the Switzerland Court of Arbitration in Sport, which wasn’t fit for purpose in 2015, so it was later transferred it to the civil courts of Toronto, where she won her own case against the IOC.

Ms Worley and I agreed the goalposts had well and truly shifted after her historic and landmark case ie, us Trans Women were once so busy working and saving to pay for our life saving surgery, that we didn’t have time to think about sport during that period of our lives, but that all changed with the tinkering of the guidelines in 2016.

The former Canadian national water ski team member at multiple world championships told the Left Winger, “I sued the IOC on June 30, 2015, as they didn’t do the science and research before they implemented the 2003 policy, publishing it through to signatory nations of the Olympic movement worldwide.

By this time her body had failed her due to long-term complete androgen deprivation and elite sport was no longer an option.

Bearing in mind World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) wouldn’t grant Ms Worley a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) in time and by the time she was granted one her body had already failed her, scuttling her dreams and goals of competing in track cycling for Canada at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics because her androgen deficient body could no longer support itself while under an elite athlete training program.

The TUE would’ve allowed her to take the testosterone prescribed for her up to a female level where her body could function and repair itself in a day to day healthy manner.

Most importantly, Ms Worley’s focus pivoted to the point that the harm would start and stop with her and set her on the path to suing the IOC to bring change to the global sporting system and to the Olympic movement to ensure their gender policy brought good health and well being to all athletes.

Kristen Worley bio pic (above)and bare foot water ski-ing (below) (Pictures supplied)

This changed everything and Ms Worley told me, “We’d fully transition and once the normal every day humdrum of life kicked in, then, we could finally think about playing our sport after that and for most of us that meant flying under the radar, therefore, there was no controversy when we came back to it.”

She said modern day athletes such as Thomas and Mouncey don’t fit that same mould we had set earlier, because they might not necessarily be as gender dysphoric as we were and therefore might not feel the need to fully transition (ie have gender confirmation surgery) and under the rules (before the World Aquatics and World Athletics blanket bans came into effect) they were fully entitled to.

Years earlier, under the 2003 IOC policy they wouldn’t have been able to compete as non-op or pre-op athletes, but under the 2016 rules, they’d done nothing wrong, but follow the goalpost shifting rules that were set out for them and the shit-storm they were subjected to should never have happened, but happen it did, as the IOC rules and guidelines had changed to accommodate them, by a group of men who did no science at all on the subject matter.

They threw the Trans community under the bus, by first changing the rules and guidelines as a one fit for all to appear progressive, but in reality it was all done to limit liability from Ms Worley’s groundbreaking court case win.

The court case was over her right to be given a Therapeutic Use Exemption for having a very low testosterone level, but the IOC never wanted her, nor any other Transitioned athlete to have a TUE in the same manner they’d hand them out to any other athlete who had low testosterone.

It took Ms Worley over two years to be granted a TUE as compared to any Cisgender Woman who receive their TUE within a few weeks after applying for it.

So in essence, her win changed the course of history and she said it herself, “it took us women with a transitioned history out of the sporting equation by opening it up to all Transgender athletes – transitioned or not.”

Kristen Worley’s biography detailing her court case with the IOC and her story being included in Linda Pruessen’s book :”Canadian Courage” detailing “Canada’s Everyday Heroes”

This opened elite sport up to pre-op and non-op Trans Women, as long as they stayed under a certain level of testosterone (initially 10 nanomols), but it ensured us fully Transitioned folk would never be able to compete equally at an international level ever again, as our androgen deficient bodies would never able to stand up to the training regimen required for us to be successful and weightlifter Laurel Hubbard is the poster child of what happens when an androgen deficient woman attempts to compete at a Commonwealth and Olympic Games while being physically unhealthy.

Graphics below depicting Gender Dysphoria and what happens to transitioned women during their post-transitioned journey (Supplied by Ms Worley)

And when it no longer suited them to be seen as progressive, the IOC, who had given power to individual sports to make their own rules whether to include or exclude all Transgender athletes, including Transitioned ones under a one-fit-for-all blanket monolith, even if there was no reason to do so.

This limited liability against them, as they pandered to their own sponsors and they set the conservative and TERF agenda on the course we’re now on where all Trans Athletes, transitioned or not, are seen as the villain.

Ms Worley told me, “Had I not won that case, then we would be still be competing and playing sport under the old Harry Benjamin guidelines, which was only open to Transitioned athletes and we wouldn’t have gone down this rabbit hole.”

Despite this, in her tweet to Proud2Play’s Dr Ryan Storr, she told him she’d worked with the IOC in developing a new and inclusive policy in 2021 during a period where both camps appeared to be on the same page.

She said unfortunately peace didn’t last and all the 2016 inclusive policy did with the advent of Mouncey and Thomas competing in women’s sport was rally conservatives to their cause, which kept their sponsors and advertisers happy.

The new sporting conundrum also gave Conservative political partners a new target, as they could no longer target gay communities, who’d won their battle in the west around the time of Marriage equality, so they targeted the vulnerable Trans community, as they had a lesser voice and the fear factor generated by this rhetoric had the donor dollars pouring in which the conservative partied needed to keep going.

Think Trump and others in this money making scheme and in sport it was Hogshead, Navratilova and co who were raking in sponsor money and in the United Kingdom, Harry Potter author JK Rowling, among others, were on our case.

What was then lost, was Transitioned Sports Women’s voices, who’ve been there and done that with lived experience in women’s sport.

Journalists are now getting it and realising us Trans athletes are not all one and the same after our lived experience voices are being heard more often on shows like Today Extra

We should have a voice, but it’s still being ignored by some media organisations (more and more cis-het journos are getting it though, including the ABC’s Tracey Holmes and the aforementioned Walshaw, among others, who have interviewed most of us at some time or other) and many sporting bodies world wide, as it doesn’t fit their narrative against us which is so well funded and orchestrated by the far right. This is now been adopted by their political parties in order to keep Trans kids on a straight and narrow path, so they don’t have the opportunity to transition as youngsters.

But I do live in hope, as most people saw ie gay people are no threat, they’ll realise as more and more of our stories come to light, that with education, they’ll see us Trans folk in a more favourable light over time.

As for the TERF/Trans wars, my thoughts are (I’m only one person, but I have had conversations with and other Transitioned Women who do agree with my view) we – the women with a transitioned history – are being left out of any conversations being had by many well funded gay organisations, as most of us go off and play our mainstream women’s sport without aid nor help from them.

What’s wrong with this picture?

Picture: Gay sporting heroes in cricketer Alex Blackwell and rugby league player Ian Roberts front and centre on ACON Pride In Sport’s “Big Trans Inclusion” day without a Transitioned Sports Person in sight,, the Transitioned Sports Woman who took the photo was behind the camera and left out in the cold. The only other athletes who spoke (besides Ricki Coughlan) were non-binary/gender neutral athletes.

When it comes time to talking about the “inclusive” policies they adopt, my feelings are that Transitioned Women are left out of the loop, as we don’t fit into their narrative, as we’re more like cis-het women than like them.

We’re also invisible as we fall through the cracks and go about our business playing our sport and flying under the radar and therefore have nothing to do with these organisations.

Of course people do like to protect their own and those who are like them, so it appears they’re, ie some LGBTQ orgs, including ACON Pride In Sport, are more interested in making rules and policies that are inclusive of people who are more variant on the gender scale than most, but who do not necessarily have gender dysphoria as severely as Transitioned Women, who need to follow the full medical route, in order to be wholly our true and authentic female selves.

They’re the people they represent, along with non-binary folk and that’s ok, but they do purport to represent ALL of us including us Transitioned folk, while taking Transgender funding money and leaving us out of the equation, but please, don’t take the money and say you’re representing all of us, when you’re clearly not and only representing the non-binary and gender neutral folk, who are more like you than us, while us Transitioned folk are left out of the loop entirely.

It’d be nice if they were more like my friends Dr Darryl Gauld OAM, Noah Riseman (History Professor at Australian Catholic Universities), James McKenzie and Ian Royer, among others, who are all out gay men and and who are very respectful and inclusive of all of us Transitioned Women folk and whenever they need something which ascertains to transgender male to female issues in sport, they come to us Transitioned pioneers who’ve been there and done that in the women’s sporting space. These transitioned women they come to for education and information include Kirsti Miller, Ricki Coughlan, Worley, Holly Conroy, myself and others who have trodden a similar path.

For someone like Ms Worley or I, it’s hard to really care when this Trans-TERF war has been totally taken out of our control and has been orchestrated by people from both sides of the divide who really aren’t educated enough on these issues to know any better, but in the process, they’ve shifted the goalposts to suit their own wants and needs..

This in turn has fed the Trans-TERF war and maybe us Transitioned Women need to rebrand ourselves or simply continue on without caring and living the lives we live for the most part where we are assumed as cisgender females in wider society.

We’d prefer not and able to be out without consequences, but I have a transitioned friend who’s currently playing two sports at the moment, one is her serious sport and the other she does for fitness, but there’s absolutely no benefit at all for her to be out, so she will continue to fly under the radar.

As for Trans Kids coming through, the ones these transphobic policies are specifically aimed at by equally transphobic people who run world spoting organisations, who’ve blanket banned all Trans Women from their sports, well most of them (those with progressive parents ie) will sail on through to play sport unencumbered due to their transitioning young and not having to go through a male puberty.

They’re not the ones this policing of gender will victimise, as it will be the people who appear as androgynous, not all of whom are Transgender, who will be at risk of most harm.

It’s sad and a pity for them, just as it’s a pity no one will know future Trans sports stars are actually Trans, as these non-inclusive policies dictate for us to once again be erased and hide in plain sight, as we’re dictated to by the far right and far left of society, all the while, most of those at the centre are good time Charlie’s and only stick around at Pride events and Mardi Gras but they do nothing to help our cause.

As the editor of this article I’d like to qualify I’m supportive of athletes who don’t have GCS as long as they’re monitored by their physician (as Karleigh Webb pointed out to me under NCAA rules in the USA, it’s a prerequisite to be tested monthly) and who are undertaking a regimen of oestrogen and progesterone. To have GCS or NOT is very much a personal choice and there is no right or wrong way to be Trans including gender neutral or non-binary. I use the term Transitioned athlete so people understand the health needs of those who have undergone GCS and the long-term effects of our bodies being androgen deficient. It is no way a slur of Trans Athletes who have Transitioned medically, but do not have the surgery.

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