Australian Olympic gold medalist and retired rugby star Ellia Green has announced he’s transitioned to male.
Ellia represented Australia playing women’s Rugby Sevens and won gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics, as well as a silver at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. Earlier this year, Ellia also took on Channel Seven’s gruelling SAS Australia.
The 29-year-old has now described his transition as the best decision of his life, after suffering mental health struggles after retiring from rugby.
Ellia, who has kept his name, hopes his story can be life-changing as well as “life-saving” for other people.
He opened up in a powerful video message at the opening of the Bingham Cup tournament, the World Cup of gay and inclusive rugby, this week.
“I played professional Rugby Sevens for Australia for around 10 years, but I’m retired now,” Ellia explained.
“I was fortunate enough to be a part of the team that played in the 2016 Rio Olympics and we won a gold medal. It was the most incredible feeling to be a part of it.”
Ellia Green retired from rugby late last year
But the 29-year-old said his struggles with mental health intensified and he suffered from depression after retiring from rugby at the end of 2021.
“Near the end of my career, I was starting to have some difficulties with my mental health,” he said.
“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 and so I felt like a complete failure. This was heartbreaking.
“One promise that I made to myself is that when my rugby career ended, I would continue to live the rest of my life in the identity… in the body that I should have.”
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But sadly, Ellia Green said the climate made being “open and honest” about his identity “a really difficult thing to do”. He urged people to treat others with respect.
“All you have to do is turn on the TV, look on social media platforms, and see the amount of bullying, harm and discrimination going on about gender identities,” he said.
“[That’s] extremely harmful. For someone to be open and honest about that to the public eye is absolutely daunting.”
Ellia Green says ‘live your life the way you want to be’
Ellia said he and partner, Vanessa Turnbull-Roberts are in a happy place with their young daughter Waitui.
He went on, “To those listening or to those who might have a story even the slightest bit similar to mine, I would love to tell you that it does get better.
“People are always going to have something to say, whether that be positive or negative.
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“I learnt that in 10 years of being a professional rugby player. 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.”
If you need support, help is available from QLife on 1800 184 527 or online at QLife.org.au, Lifeline on 13 11 14, Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800, or beyondblue on 1300 22 4636.
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