Today, on International Transgender Day of Visibility, I’m going to be standing out the front of a major Australian hardware chain, frying up snags and cooking onions to sell to the great masses that congregate there, every weekend to raise funds for my football club, the St Kilda Sharks.
It’s an experience repeated by thousands of people all over Australia every week of the year, but for me it will come with increased anxiety and trepidation. As a transgender person, being visible can be challenging. Or frightening. Or dangerous.
I am incredibly fortunate that I am so well-supported at my football club as a transgender athlete. The women I play alongside, who coach us and run the show are like my sisters, like mothers, like daughters.
"It is liberating to be in a space where I can be who I am."
I don’t have to hide anything about my identity and I’m not just accepted, but embraced. But even then, I can’t control what the people at the BBQ will think. I can’t control what my opponents think, or opposition fans, or administrators who call for me to be banned.
My visibility as a trans woman has opened some doors, and had others slammed in my face. I have had amazing people celebrate my life, and others call for my death. Yet I know that I’m exceedingly lucky. So many gender diverse people don’t have a space like I have at the Sharks, a space where they are welcomed and loved.
Many trans and gender diverse people can’t leave their homes without the very real risk of abuse or violence. This may even mean they can’t go out, presenting to the world as the person that they truly are.
"When visibility can compromise a persons safety so much that they live in fear, as a society we owe it to them to be better."
Sport is as an endeavour that runs deep in the Australian psyche. It transcends all the aspects of the human identity. But whilst so many different people encounter barriers to participation that should not be there, it’s members of the transgender community that are having their very right to be allowed to play debated, and in some cases actively denied.
This is why Transgender Day of Visibility is so important. We don’t want to hide, feel scared to leave our homes or be excluded from the sports we love. All we ask for is the chance to live our best lives.
We want to celebrate all of the experiences that most people get to take for granted. For many of us we will congregate together and celebrate who we are today. We will fly our flags with pride, we will walk arm and arm and we will stand strong together.
We may come from every different part of society but we are united by one thing, the fact that our genders were incorrectly assigned at birth. All we want is to be accepted.
We want to ensure that when we aren’t all together at a celebration like Transgender Day of Visibility, when we are on our own at work, at school, at the supermarket or even at our football club that we're treated with kindness, understanding and respect.
As for me, I’ll be standing at the BBQ wearing my Trans Pride beanie, my pronoun badges and a warm engaging smile for everyone who comes to buy a sausage in bread.
I am proud to be transgender and I want everyone to see that I should be proud. I lived too much of my life in the shadows, it’s time I get to stand in the light with everybody else.
- Emily Fox