Ellia Green, who won an Olympic Gold medal in 2016 as a member of the women's rugby team of Australia, has made history as the first Olympian to come out as a transgender male, reports the Associated Press.
Green, who was assigned female at birth, said that coming out was “the best decision of his life.” He realized that sharing his story could save lives and went public with a video at an international summit focused on ending transphobia and homophobia in sport. The summit was part of the Bingham Cup rugby tournament and held in Ottawa, Canada. Green has decided to keep his same name.
Before deciding to go public, Green revealed that he was in a “dark place” before retiring from rugby at the end of 2021.
“This is what happened to me,” Green said. “Pretty much my rugby career ended and I had been in and out of mental health facilities for serious issues. My depression hit a new level of sadness.”
“I was ashamed of myself. I felt I had let a lot of people down, especially myself and my mom. I felt like a complete failure, it was heartbreaking,” he added. “The one thing that did keep me positive is that I had already planned my surgery and treatment towards my transition. It was something I was counting down the days with my partner.”
With the support of his partner Vanessa Turnbull-Roberts, with whom he shares an infant daughter, Waitui, he’s in a much better place today.
“Vanessa was pregnant and having to come to the hospital to visit,” Green said. “I was having bad episodes. That’s the last time I want her to have to see me like that. But the only way to help heal is to talk about it . . . I’d like to help someone not feel so isolated by telling my story.”
Green hopes his story will inspire other trans people to have the courage to be themselves.
“I just knew it was going to be the most liberating feeling when I had that surgery and to be in the body I knew I had to be,” he continued. “That was a bright spark in my mind during these dark times facing demons, but I knew there was light at the end of the tunnel.”
“I knew something that would make me really happy is that, No. 1, I am going to live the rest of my life with my partner and my daughter,” he added. “And that I am going to live the rest of my life as her dad.”
Erik Denison, a Monash University researcher who studies homophobia and transphobia in sports, lauded Green for his bravery and said, "public support from high-profile athletes was invaluable given the alarming rates of suicide and poor mental health among trans and gender-diverse young people."
“I’m awed by Ellia’s bravery and his deep desire to help save the lives of trans youth through sharing his story,” continued Denison. “He will be such a powerful role model to young people and sharing his story will help to save lives.”
Now in retirement, Green is dedicated to being an advocate for transgender athletes.
“Banning transgender people from sports is disgraceful and hurtful,” Green said. “It only means the rates of suicide and mental health issues will get even worse.”