The Proud 2 Play Team, had a chat with Erica, following her appearance at the Wear it Purple Day, Panel Discussion at Cricket Victoria.
Q: To start us off Erica, can you give the readers an idea of your sporting journey, you have a real passion for cricket, so it would be great to hear where it all began.
A: I played cricket in primary and early high school. I was pretty terrible at it but I loved the game. What I didn’t love was being in a boys’ team. I actually enjoyed backyard cricket a lot more because it wasn’t gendered at all and, although no-one knew I was really female (apart from me), that was really important to me. As soon as I was allowed to stop playing, or maybe as soon as I had the courage to not take the path of least resistance, I did. That was probably in about 1989. After that, the only cricket involvement I had was watching it on TV (sometimes) and going to a match once a year with my mum.
Q: How did it feel when you first got involved with the cricket club you play for now, and your return back to the sport? It was really touching to hear about your first time holding a cricket bat again after all those years.
A: Honestly, it was an incredible moment in my life. Even when I decided I would TRY to find a club that would allow me to join, I never assumed I’d be allowed to play. And I didn’t really believe that a club would accept me as completely as UWCC has. I still remember turning up for the first practice session I went to. I was SO nervous. I didn’t know what to expect. And I didn’t really have any equipment except the bat that I had used at school (which was tiny). I was so exhausted afterwards, not from the physical exertion but from the incredible happiness with which taking that step had filled me. Joining my club has really changed my life a lot. I’ve started to care about my health and fitness (not obsessively but about 500% more than before), and being part of a club in my affirmed gender just feels so right.
Q: What can sports clubs do, right now, to better help trans, and gender diverse kids?
A: I think the best thing they can do is simply make it clear that diversity is welcome in their clubs. To be honest, I would have taken up cricket again a lot earlier in my life, and probably transitioned earlier in my life, had I known that there were sporting organisations out there who weren’t just tolerant, but actively accepting of gender diversity. And I don’t necessarily think that the clubs are at fault for that. I feel that up until a few years ago there wasn’t that realization of how important it was to allow gender diverse individuals the opportunity to play sport in their affirmed gender.
Q: How about teammates, what can they do to better welcome trans and gender diverse sports people, do you have any tips?
A: On a level, the best thing people can do for their gender diverse teammates is include them, and treat them with the same respect as everyone else they play with. Also, don’t ask questions of gender diverse people that you wouldn’t ask your other cisgender teammates (unless invited!).
Q: What is next for Erica James?
Well, cricket season is coming up very soon so that’s my main focus at the moment. Our pre-season training has started and I’m feeling really positive about this Summer. Longer term, whether it’s realistic or not, my goal is to play elite cricket and put Cricket Australia’s Trans and Gender Diverse Inclusion Policy to the test!!!