Rugby league to BAN transgender athletes from competing in international events – NRL
Caroline Layt fought discrimination and ignorance as Australia’s first transrugby league player – and now she’s revealed she had to fight her own teammates too.
The 56-year-old pioneer was playing first-degree women’s rugby in Sydney in 2005, when she said she was beaten by six of her teammates after her coach laughed at her a few weeks beforehand.
“The first one held my arms while the rest took turns hitting my head… bang, bang, bang,” she said.
Her team’s coach found out she was trans during an incredible conversation when he said Layt had no experience in the sport — and had a very unexpected comeback.
Layt excelled on the football pitch while her coach advised her to try playing for Australia
She knew it was “wrong” to be a man from age three or four and asked her father, “Why can’t I be a girl?” for the transition just before you turn 30. is becoming
“I replied… ‘Well, actually I played for Easts 20 years ago, against you,’” recalls Layt, who played a State of Origin rugby league game for NSW in 2007.
The following year, she was playing in the same league when a bounty was placed on her, with an elbow to the head worth $25.
“Whoever hurt me the most, they got the money,” she told the Daily Telegram†
But despite dealing with violence and harassment, Layt insists her time in women’s sports is “not a sad story.”
She started playing footy when she was four and was good enough to take the field for South Sydney in rugby league when she was in her early twenties.
But all the while, something didn’t feel right.
“I knew about three or four years,” Layt told the Daily Mail Australia. “I just knew it was wrong to be like that.
“I remember asking my father, ‘Why can’t I be a girl, why can’t I be beautiful?'”
Layt (pictured with the ball) played for the NSW Blues in the 2007 Women’s State of Origin
Today, Layt is an advocate for trans women in sports — and she wants to speak with NRL bosses Andrew Abdo and Peter V’landys about trans players making their mark in the NRLW
After acting “totally macho” during her time at a boys-only Catholic boarding school, she took up traditionally male sports and was selected by Souths at the age of 23.
Almost seven years later, just before her 30th birthday, she decided to switch.
‘It was heavy. In those early transition phases, people can see you’re trans and they stare and be rude. As I started to pass more it got easier, but there were phases where it flared up. I was attacked one day by a 16-year-old kid,” she said.
Sport became a saving grace for her when she won four golds, silvers and bronzes at the Sydney Gay Games, then she decided to return to playing footy after a game of touch at a high school reunion where her classmates embraced her new identity.
She excelled and was named a women’s player of the year finalist in the Sydney Morning Herald’s rugby awards in 2004. Her coach wanted her to play for Australia at the time.
Her Origin debut for the Blues followed three years later and she missed playing more games for NSW when a knee injury ruled her out for 2008 and much of 2009.
Layt was always a handy footballer. She returned to the field after transitioning when she played a game of touch at a school reunion and rekindled her love for the game
Trans women participating in sports – especially contact sports where there is concern that other competitors will be hurt by bigger and more powerful trans opponents – has become a major problem in Australia.
Layt is at the center of the debate now that she works as a journalist, blogger and advocate for trans women.
‘No one was killed. No one was injured,” she said of her time in rugby league.
“The year I played for NSW, Queensland beat us 38-16. And you can find the footage, I was just another player.”
Layt wants to sit down with NRL bosses Andrew Abdo and Peter V’landys to talk about trans women playing in the NRLW.
“I think trans athletes have to wait at least two years after the transition before they can play footy,” she explained, adding that her bench press dropped significantly when she transitioned, and her decline in stamina was worse.