Mianne Bagger has two words for people who call her a "hypocrite" for being in favour of Tasmanian Liberal senator Claire Chandler's so-called "Save Women's Sport" bill: "bad luck".
Bagger is an Australian professional golfer who made history at the Women's Australian Open as the first transgender athlete to compete in a professional golf tournament.
In her own career, after transitioning in 1995, she faced the suspicion that "if I happen to do well, or win a tournament, that it was because of an unfair advantage" — that supposed advantage being the misconception that a trans woman competing is the same as "a male a body that's entering women's sport".
"There is a real impact of transition which does reduce strength and performance, although this does take a reasonable period of time," the 55-year-old explained to news.com.au.
And yet, despite the "pivotal" role transitioning had on her own life and sporting achievements, she supports Senator Chandler's bill — which seeks to amend the Australian Sports Commission Act 1989 and the Sex Discrimination Act 1984, and would ultimately give sporting bodies and organisations the right to lawfully exclude a trans person from competing "in any sporting activity intended for persons of a different sex".
Asked why she favours a bill that could have ultimately precluded her from competing during her own career, Bagger said: "These days, [the dynamic] has crept into what's called self ID or self identification: male-bodied people presenting as women, who live as women, with varying degrees of medical intervention and in some degrees, no medical intervention, which is just — it's crossed the line, in my view, it really has … It's a slap in the face to women."
She stressed that, when considering the bill, it was "really important" to note "the difference between general society and sport, particularly really high-level sport".
"In every day society, of course we want an inclusive, egalitarian [society]. We want equality, lack of discrimination, and of course every single person should have equal access to life and services and work in society. Of course we all want that, and so do I," she explained.
"In sport? It's different. Sport is about physical ability. It's not just about discrimination, it's not just about equality and equal access. It is a physical ability. Now, if you've got one group — males — that are on average stronger, taller, faster, as opposed to women, there has to be a divide. There has to be a division."
Bagger pointed to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decision to amend their trans-inclusion policy — so that gender reassignment surgery was no longer required for a trans female athlete to compete and the ineligibility period (the length of time the body is without testosterone) was shortened down from two years to one — as one that "almost denies the impact of testosterone on physical performance".
"Which is obviously utter rubbish. Anyone with any basic understanding on biology and the difference between men and women knows it's ridiculous. It's male puberty that really grants boys and men that physical performance in sport," she added.
"And I think it's irrefutable — it's ridiculous to suggest otherwise."
While Bagger said this is less relevant in school-based and community level sport — fields where she is "absolutely in favour of everyone having access to in a reasonable and fair capacity" — it's important to consider "when it comes to elite, professional sport".
"You've got money, medals, world records — there's a whole different dynamic at play," she said.
One of the arguments against the bill is that it will act as "a Trojan horse, leading into further aspects of discrimination and access to different services for trans women", Bagger said.
"Which of course, it's important to make sure there is a distinction that that doesn't happen, and that this sports bill is focused on sport and doesn't bleed into other aspects that are then further discriminating trans women and diverse people in society."
Instead, she understands the bill as a means of "removing that potential for sports bodies to face legal action if they choose to discriminate trans women in some capacity" — though still believes the IOC's 2003 policy that required trans women to undergo surgery "could potentially be a workable solution".
"I'm seen as a bit of hypocritical voice at the moment, so I just have to take the abuse and whatever criticism that is going to come my way, but my views actually haven't changed," Bagger said.
"I still think there could be access for transitioned women to women's sport under those came [2003 IOC] conditions, or slight amendments of those conditions. I just don't agree with the current, softened policies that are requiring less and less medical intervention of a male-bodied person entering women's sport.
"And if people don't like that, calling me a hypocrite, I'm like, well, bad luck. I'm sorry, but be reasonable."