Former rugby sevens star, Olympic gold medallist and SAS Australia contestant Ellia Green has come out as transgender at the Bingham Cup — the world championship of gay and inclusive rugby — in Canada this week.
Per the ABC, the 29-year-old Fijian-born winger retired from rugby sevens at the end of 2021. He found himself in a “dark place” as his depression around his identity and childhood trauma closed in.
“Pretty much my rugby career ended and I had been in and out of mental health facilities for serious issues,” he said at the Bingham Cup’s anti-transphobia summit.
“My depression hit a new level of sadness.”
He talked about the shame he felt after retiring from the Australian squad and how his depression convinced him that he was a failure to his teammates, coaches and family — especially his late mum Yolanta Green.
“I spent a lot of time after I finished up my career with Australian rugby just in the house, in a dark room, I didn’t have the confidence to see anyone,” Green said.
“I was ashamed of myself, I felt I had let a lot of people down, especially myself and my mum. I felt like a complete failure, it was heartbreaking.
“But the one thing that kept me positive was the fact that I had planned my surgery — my top surgery — and it was something that I had been literally counting down the days with my beautiful partner.
“I just knew it was going to be the most liberating feeling when I had that surgery when I started to take the steps towards being in the body that I know I am meant to be in.”
Ellia Green shared how he spent a lot of his childhood thinking he was a boy in public. With a short haircut and wearing his brother’s clothes, Green was often mistaken for a little boy by new people he met.
“I used to always wear my brother’s clothes, played with tools and ran around with no shirt on,” he said.
“Until I grew breasts and I thought ‘oh no’.
“My mum would dress me in girlie outfits… I always wanted to make her happy, so if she wanted me to wear a dress, I wore a dress.”
Ellia Green also slammed the banning of transgender people from sport, a move that several sporting federations around the world including FIFA and Athletics Australia have made recently.
“Banning transgender people from sport, I think is disgraceful, and I think it’s hurtful,” he said.
“I think that the rates of suicide and mental health will get even worse. I say that because I guess, I am speaking for myself.
“To those listening or to those who might have a story — even the slightest bit similar to mine — I would just love to tell you that it does get better, and it has taken me so much courage to even take the steps to sit here at now and talk about it.”
If you’d like to talk about the issues raised in this story, you can call the QLife LGBTI peer support hotline on 1800 184 527 or chat online.
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If you need mental health support, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or chat online.
Under 25? You can reach Kids Helpline at 1800 55 1800 or chat online.
If you require immediate assistance, please call 000.