Transgender footballer Hannah Mouncey opens up on AFLW draft and homelessness

Transgender footballer Hannah Mouncey opens up on AFLW draft and homelessness

Hannah Mouncey admits she might have been "a bit naive", but she could never have imagined the storm she was walking into in 2017.

She spent a month from mid-March to mid-April in a mental health rehabilitation facility in Sydney and has been effectively homeless since the middle of the year, bouncing between homes of friends and family.

Transgender footballer Hannah Mouncey was thrust in the public eye after an AFL panel ruled that she was ineligible for the AFLW draft in October.

Transgender footballer Hannah Mouncey was thrust in the public eye after an AFL panel ruled that she was ineligible for the AFLW draft in October. Credit:Sitthixay Ditthavong

Her name was splattered all over newspapers and her face on television after her bid to enter the AFL Women's draft was controversially knocked back.

But the 28-year-old is refusing to give in as she fights for equality, and the door has been bizarrely left ajar for her to play in the AFLW's second season.

Hannah Mouncey.

Hannah Mouncey.Credit:Sitthixay Ditthavong

Doubts cloud her future in football with AFL officials to meet in mid-January in the hope of implementing a policy on transgender players by the end of January.

A disappointed Mouncey hasn't been invited and doubts she will like the result because she feels the AFL has an "us against them" mentality.

However Mouncey has "every intention of playing again [this] year", although it's more likely she will be playing in Melbourne than Canberra as she weighs up a move interstate.

If the result goes her way, the entire drama will have been "for nothing".

"If they bring this policy out by the end of January and it's a positive one, the ridiculousness of it is that if a player goes down in the AFLW, I'll actually be able to come in as a top-up player, as an injury replacement player," Mouncey said.

"The whole saga would have went on for nothing in that instance. Just in NSW and Victoria, and I include the ACT in that, there's another 45 people in my position - kids, men and women - it affects a lot more than just me."

The saga has been emotionally draining but it didn't trigger Mouncey's mental health issues - football was an outlet for that.

"To be honest, the whole last 18 months, I couldn't have expected anything that happened," Mouncey said.

"The draft I definitely didn't expect because I never set out to do it. It was an opportunity that came along midway through the year and I think you'd be pretty silly not to explore it.

"The timing of it, the whole way it played out just meant it became this massive thing that no one really had any control over."

But the AFL's backflip played into Mouncey's current state of flux, couch surfing since she came back to Australia from a trip to Europe in August.

Finding somewhere to live on the eve of the draft was "pointless" because she would have been there for no more than two months before being picked up.

And Mouncey knows she was going to be drafted.

"Knowing the draft was coming and having spoken to a couple of clubs I knew I was going to get picked up. That was not a concern, I knew it was going to happen having spoken to them," Mouncey said.

"I knew I would have to move to Melbourne and the club would find me somewhere to live.

"The AFL only contacted me regarding the draft about 10 days before it so it was very late on. I wasn't moving to Melbourne but had nowhere to live. It then made it very difficult.

"If they at first instance back in June said 'you can't nominate for the draft', it wouldn't have caused any issues because I would have got back to Canberra and found somewhere to live.

"Because the AFL did what it did when it did, it played a big part in that."

Mouncey couldn't escape the draft coverage - she had people sending her links to stories almost every day, but still she didn't grasp the enormity of the "surreal" situation.

"About two weeks later I went and got a coffee at a cafe that a friend of mine owns, and she said 'every single person is asking me about you'," Mouncey said.

"The thing is, they didn't even know we knew each other, these were just customers walking in and they were just asking for her opinion on my situation.

"They had no idea we were friends, so it was when she said that, that was when I realised this is a bit bigger than I thought."

The AFL quashed Mouncey's AFLW draft hopes due to concerns the semi-professional environment would unfairly "accelerate her development and increase her physical size".

The future is anything but clear - originally denied the chance to play with the game's best but allowed to play at amateur level, Mouncey isn't sure if she can even do that.

She has set up a 'transform coaching and speaking' business to provide education and support on gender inclusion and diversity in the workplace but football is still on the radar.


She has already been in talks with reigning VFL Women's premiers Darebin about joining the club, with St Kilda and Hawthorn also interested in the handball star.

Mouncey's football career is far from over.

Caden Helmers is a sports reporter for The Canberra Times

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