Tori Groves-Little has officially become the AFLW’s first openly non-binary player, in a massive move for gender diversity in the sport.
Groves-Little, who plays for the Gold Coast Suns, came out publicly earlier this year via Insta, and has now spoken about using their platform in the AFLW to educate people about being non-binary.
In a chat with the AFLW they discussed their gender identity, and called for people within the sport to make an effort with using people’s correct pronouns which, let’s be honest, should be literally the bare minimum.
“If you do say ‘she’ is really good at footy, it’s a quick [change] to ‘they’. Try not to make a big deal out of it, because if you make a big deal, it makes me awkward and then it makes you awkward.”
Frankly, this is good advice for everyone, not just footy coaches.
Groves-Little also talked a little bit about being the first openly non-binary AFL player.
“To be the first in the AFLW environment is daunting and scary, but I’m comfortable in myself now and in my body, so if you’re confident it’s not as nerve-racking,” they said.
“I hope I can educate people who fall into the community, but other allies as well … reach out and have a chat.”
Honestly, there’s already a bunch of pressure for high-profile LGBTQIA+ people to use their platforms to educate straight, cis people, so kudos to Groves-Little for being willing to talk so openly about their identity.
As a general rule, the AFLW has something of a chequered past when it comes to gender diversity. In late 2020, it updated its gender diversity policies, but still kept some requirements for trans and non-binary players looking to play in its leagues.
Crucially, players have to be able to prove that their testosterone levels are at or below five nmol/L for at least two years prior to them joining the league. They also have to provide loads of personal data that cis players don’t, including their weight, height, bench press, vertical jump scores and sprint time. These requirements have been criticised because they’re really subjective.
Hannah Mouncey, a trans woman who nominated for the AFLW draft back in 2017 and was accepted and then rejected, pointed out the issues with those tests.
Speaking to the ABC she said “I am going to be taller than the average player, but at the same time, there are more than enough players playing at the same height [as me].
“Would I be seen as having an unfair advantage because of my height? People have strengths and weaknesses. Someone might be able to run a four-minute mile but can’t do a push-up. Do the two negate each other?”
Mouncey was considering taking legal action against the AFL over whether she could play in the Canberra Women’s First Grade league. Clearly, there’s still a ways to go for full acceptance of gender diversity in the AFLW.
However, massive props must go to Groves-Little for using their platform to talk about the importance of respecting people’s gender identities, using the right pronouns and listening to the LGBTQIA+ community both inside the sport and out of it.
They said: “There’s not too much … that would offend me because I know you don’t know. If you just ask the question, I’m happy with it.
“If you meet someone new, just ask their pronoun. I definitely reckon there’s more [non-binary] people out there and it’s just when you come to accepting it and being yourself.”
Now that’s some bloody good life advice.