Proud to fulfil obligation

April 04, 2017

Ready to roll: Shepparton Bears footballer Emily Rowe, 35, will run out with the women's side in July this year in the Northern Country Women's League.

From the age of about 11 or 12, being male didn’t sit comfortably with Emily Rowe.

‘‘It didn’t make sense but as a kid growing up in Jerilderie I didn’t know there was another alternative,’’ she said.

‘‘Literally every action used to be a concious act to talk like a man, walk like a man ... and it was tiring.’’

In October last year, with the support of her wife Emma, the now 35-year-old began hormone replacement therapy to transition into a woman.

‘‘It’s such a liberating feeling,’’ Ms Rowe said.

‘‘I was constantly feeling like I was betraying myself and the people around me because I wasn’t living a true experience.

‘‘A lot of people describe being transgender as feeling like you’re trapped in the wrong body, but the way I look at it is this is the only body I’ve ever had.’’

What’s equally exciting is that Ms Rowe will pull on her football boots — for the first time since 2012 — to play for the Shepparton Bears Football Netball Club this year in the new Northern Country Women’s League.

‘‘I feel like it’s an obligation to come out as the first openly transgender footballer in Victoria,’’ she said.

‘‘There are probably heaps of transgender footballers running around all over (Australia) but, for their own reasons, it isn’t something they’ve gone public with.

‘‘I thought it was important to raise my hand and say that transgender people do exist.’’

Ms Rowe said she got in touch with the leadership group at the Shepparton Bears women’s team earlier this year and was told they’d love to have her on board.

‘‘There was no questions to who I am or what it’s about,’’ she said.

‘‘The club has been absolutely incredible, from the president Will Phillips all the away down to the girls who are turning up to training for the first time.

‘‘They’re really proactive and are engaging and investing heavily in women’s football and that is massive and something to be proud of.’’

Ms Rowe, who fancies herself as a marking forward on the field, said she hoped to be a beacon of light for other people in her situation battling with their identity.

‘‘If you aren’t feeling comfortable and are having issues, talk to your parents, talk to your school and if that’s not a possibility, it’s nice to know that this football club, Shepparton Bears, is accepting and inviting,’’ she said.

But for now Ms Rowe is just excited to get ready to play her part in the team of 22.

‘‘I’ll just be one of the boys or one of the girls and that’s the most important thing of all.’’

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