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  • Writer's pictureanonymous woman

I loved playing football on a women's team. I had played mixed sports in the past but noticed that men always seem to take over, passing mostly to other men and generally playing aggressively towards women. Compared to this, an amateur women’s football team felt like a safe space where women could play sport with other women without fear of being bulldozed by men. My inner-north Melbourne football team was very welcoming of women of all skill levels and abilities, and was generally just a fun time. As a lesbian I felt like I fitted in because there were a lot of other lesbians who played footy. There were also a few women who identified as gender non-binary, which at first I didn’t see as a problem at all. However, it wasn’t long before one gender non-binary woman complained about the language used at the club, such as ‘woman’ and ‘girls’ (girls was sometimes used in reference to the group of players such as in the way that male footy players call each other ‘boys’). She very aggressively told the coach off for using ‘gendered language’ and insisted that instead of referring to anyone on the team as women or girls, we should say ‘players’ or other gender non-specific terms. She also insisted that instead of referring to each other as ‘she/her’ (as in ‘pass her the ball’ or ‘she kicked a goal’) we should all use ‘they/them’ for all players, regardless of a player's gender identity. Thankfully, the coaches pushed back on the pronouns so we were still allowed to use she/her, unless of course someone had a personal preference for they/them. It wasn’t long before signs were posted up all over the club rooms reminding everyone of this. The next thing that happened was the promotion of a ‘gender-inclusive’ policy, that stated that anyone who identifies as a woman (though we can’t use this word) could play on our team. This meant that even people with fully intact male bodies could now play on our team and share our change rooms, if they said they were a woman. The culture of ‘inclusion’ meant that no one felt like they could speak against this policy, so many women just left the team without saying anything. I didn’t bother joining another team in the hope that it remained women-only, because I know it will be the same everywhere, eventually. I loved being part of a women-only team, there was something special about being around other women, without men, and I’m sad that it’s not possible anymore.


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