Rugby Gold Medalist Ellia Green Becomes First Olympian to Come Out as a Transgender Man

·4-min read

Ellia Green has become the first Olympic athlete to come out as a transgender male.

Green, who was part of Australia's rugby sevens team that won the gold medal in the 2016 Olympics, told The Associated Press that he first believed he was a male when he was a child. He has decided to keep his birth name.

"As a kid I remember I thought I was a boy in public, I had a short (haircut) and whenever we met new people they thought I was a boy," Green recalled. "I always used to wear my brother's clothes, played with tools, and ran around with no shirt on. Until I grew breasts, and I thought 'oh no'."

He added that his mother Yolanta, who — along with his father Evan — adopted Green at an early age, "would dress me in girlie outfits ... I always wanted to make her happy, so if she wanted me to wear a dress, I wore a dress."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5nkIJ4H8Vso&t=3s Ellia Green - Bingham Cup - First Olympian Trans Man to Come Out
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5nkIJ4H8Vso&t=3s Ellia Green - Bingham Cup - First Olympian Trans Man to Come Out

Bingham Cup Media/YouTube

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The athlete also shared his truth in a video that premiered Tuesday during the Bingham Cup International Summit to end transphobia and homophobia in the sports industry.

He said in the video that a turning point came when he decided to retire from rugby late last year after not being selected for the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.

"Towards the end of my career I started having some difficulties with my mental health," he said. "One promise that I made to myself, that when my rugby career ended, I would continue to live the rest of my life in the identity and the body that I should have."

He added, "I spent a lot of time after I finished up my career with Australian rugby just in the house, in a dark room. I hadn't been picked for the Tokyo Olympics, so I felt like a complete failure, it was heartbreaking. I really took that as a reflection on my whole self as a person, so I was unable to leave the house."

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He credited his then upcoming top surgery — a procedure to remove your breast tissue (subcutaneous mastectomy) — as "the one thing that kept me positive."

"I had planned my surgery and treatment towards my transition. It was something I was counting down the days with my beautiful partner," he said.

His partner, Vanessa Turnbull-Roberts, was pregnant around that time, and they've since welcomed daughter Waitui, he told the AP.

"I just knew it was going to be the most liberating feeling when I had that surgery and when I started to take the steps towards being in the body I know I'm meant to be in. That was definitely something that was a bright spark in my mind during these dark times."

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He ended with a note for others who are experiencing what he went through.

"Even without changing genders, changing appearance, identity, people are always going to have something to say, whether that be positive or negative ... so why not just live the rest of your life exactly as you want to be? Because life is just too short to live it as something else. And you are beautiful."

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He also told the AP that his family is what keeps him going.

"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 said. "And that I am going to live the rest of my life as her dad."

Green is the first Olympian to come out as a transgender male. Before him, Caitlyn Jenner revealed she is a transgender woman in 2015. Quinn, a player on Canada's women's soccer team, came out as transgender and non-binary last August.