A high-profile campaigner against transgender women participating in female soccer leagues has been hit with a restraining order on behalf of a prominent transgender player.
Kirralie Smith organized a campaign that bombarded Football NSW with 12,000 emails calling for a rethink of trans women playing in women’s leagues.
‘Keep men out of women’s sports!’ read the petition page.
During her lobbying efforts, Ms. Smith named a number of transgender players on social media, including a top scorer.
OOn April 1, police came to Ms Smith’s home and issued an arrest warrant for the campaigner preventing her from discussing or approaching the player.
The warrant also covers electronic harassment of the trans activist player, who lives more than 300 km away.
“I was in disbelief,” said Mrs. Smith.
“I got an application for an AVO and have never been violent in my life.”
Kirralie Smith has campaigned for Football NSW to review its policy on the matter, naming a number of transgender players within the league in a series of social media posts
The trans woman was the league’s top scorer
The 51-year-old mother of three believes this is the first case in Australia where police have become involved in social media posts speaking out against transgender ideology.
Ms Smith is due to appear in court later this month for the court to decide whether to uphold the preliminary injunction.
“I will vigorously oppose the charges in court,” she said.
“I have a very long-term knee injury. I am not violent and incapable of violence.’
Ms Smith, who is director of Binary Australia, said the court’s decision will have far-reaching implications for free speech, particularly with regard to transgender comments, but she is not deterred by the AVO.
“It’s important for women to be able to draw boundaries and speak freely about how men influence their spaces and services,” she said.
“I will continue to speak truthfully about biological issues and how they affect women and children in Australia.”
Anti-trans activist Kirralie Smith and her supporters bombarded Football Australia with complaints about trans women playing the sport in female leagues
Ms. Smith has been very vocal about the participation of trans women in women’s sports and the risk of injury for female players.
The government’s eSafety Commission, responsible for cyberbullying, is believed to be involved in the case.
Ms Smith removed her Facebook page, which had 47,000 followers, at the request of the eSafety Commissioner on 20 February.
Former Liberal candidate, lawyer and co-founder of Save Women’s Sports Katherine Deeves — who has also been outspoken about the need to keep women’s sports for biological women — said she was concerned about the implications of this case.
On April 1, police came to Ms Smith’s home and issued an AVO preventing her from discussing or approaching a trans activist she had previously named, despite the fact that she lives over 300 km away
Ms Smith said she is not violent and poses no threat to the trans activist who received the AVO
“The Supreme Court has recognized in several rulings that the implied freedom of communication exists under the Constitution in relation to political and governmental matters,” she said.
“The objective of AVOs in domestic violence and personal violence legislation and eSafety Commissioner legislation must be compatible with the system of representative and accountable government.
Lead attorney at the Feminist Legal Clinic, Anna Kerr, also expressed concern that laws designed to protect people are increasingly being used to silence women.
“Too often we see bullies berating those who dare to stand up to them,” Ms Kerr said.
“AVOs that fail to protect women from male violence are now being used as weapons against them.
“I am concerned that the eSafety Commissioner and law enforcement agencies need to ensure that their powers are not manipulated to suppress freedom of expression.”
Comments have been sought from the eSafety Commission and the Australian Professional Association for Trans Health.
The Australian Human Rights Commission has shared guidance on the inclusion of transgender people in sport in 2019, noting that ‘Transgender and gender diverse people are sometimes excluded from sport, or may face discrimination and sexual harassment if they participate.
HOW THE WORLD GAME TACKLES TRANS ISSUES
Last year, FIFA and World Athletics, the governing body of world football, said they were reviewing their transgender admission policies after swimming passed new rules restricting transgender participation in women’s events.
However, reports from earlier this year suggested that transgender footballers would compete in the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand in July and August.
FIFA women’s program director Sarai Bareman told The Australian in January that three transgender players had contacted her about the review process and that she believed there were more.
“I think it’s very sensitive and we have to be very careful how we handle it. That’s something we take very, very seriously.
“And we certainly don’t want to rush it (the decision on new rules) given the impact it will have for many generations to come,” she said.
Ms Bareman said FIFA has consulted various groups, including human rights groups, non-governmental organisations, athletes and other sports, as well as the International Olympic Committee.
“We have to be very careful as you know we have 211 member associations and basically what we do seems to be a blueprint for those member associations so the consultation process is very comprehensive and we will take our time to make sure we get it right,” she said.
Australia’s Human Rights Commission shared guidelines on the inclusion of transgender people in sport in 2019, noting that ‘transgender and gender diverse people are sometimes excluded from sport, or may face discrimination and sexual harassment if they participate.
While some reported positive experiences with inclusion, others described how they were excluded from the sports they loved because of their gender or gender identity.
“Some talked about quitting sports during their transition journey because they were worried about how their teammates would treat them.”