February 15, 2023 - one year ago
Emma Bastable (far right) pictured with her teammates.
By Renae Smyth
Transgender netballer Emma Bastable first started playing in the Urban Rec Netball league in Sydney’s inner suburb of Redfern in 2018.
A mixed social competition that Emma signed up for as an individual on a whim. A daunting step to take, given she didn’t know her teammates or the rules of the game.
Although, having played cricket, rugby and soccer growing up, Emma knew the rules and friendships would come later. So, for now, she focused on the fun and the opportunity to switch off from her days, working as a solicitor.
Taking more than eight years away from playing any sport, Emma admits there was always a concern in the back of her mind. An uneasy feeling that she may not be accepted by her team or the club.
“I was worried about the transgender stuff at first, I think that was one of the reasons why I hadn’t played sport for so long,” she said.
To her surprise, her gender was never a problem.
“It was totally not a big deal. Everyone accepted me and validated me in my gender. It was just never an issue,” she said.
Emma felt the support of fellow teammates and instantly felt welcome. Pulling on the GK bib for ‘The Flinstones’ felt right.
“I got really lucky in a way. I met a group of people that I really liked,” she said.
“The team was super supportive. I told them that I had never played netball before, so they were giving me tips and helping me along the way.”
Emma now plays multiple nights a week in five different teams and can’t imagine life without the game.
“Netball has become such a huge part of my life and a big part of my identity.
“Having positive experiences over and over again has just made it easy to slowly start to play in more leagues and progress my abilities.
“I don’t know what I would be doing with a lot of my time if I hadn’t had such a good experience [with netball].”
The community netballer has thrown her support behind Netball Australia’s recent announcement of policy guidelines for inclusion of transgender and gender diverse athletes in the elite competitions.
“Diverse representation at higher levels is just so important for making everyone feel welcome in the leagues and in the teams.
“Kids look up to high-profile players and if they decide to pursue netball more seriously as a career, it is comforting to know that it’s an option for them. An option for everyone.”
To Emma, knowing the netball community has provided pathways and opportunities for others like her within the sport brings a level of acceptance, but hopes to see more engagement at the grassroots level.
“It’s really important for transgender people to be accepted and given the opportunity and to know that someone out there has there back.
“It takes a lot to take that first step of signing up for a community sport and if you have a bad experience, it could be enough to disincentivise you to stop playing sport all together.
“Encouraging transgender people to participate in community sport goes a long way to changing attitudes and normalising acceptance of us and showing that we’re just out there doing our own thing and living a normal life.”
Emma will be a voice within the transgender and gender diverse community that will work with Netball Australia and netball member organisations as they develop policy guidelines for inclusion of transgender and gender diverse netballers at a community level.
Taking that brave step onto the court is an experience that Emma believes has changed her life and the person she has become, very much for the better.
“I’ve made so many friends through netball, friends that I never would have met before if I wasn’t playing netball,” she said.
“It allows me to be a better person and live a better life than I otherwise would be.”
For the original post from Netball Australia: https://netball.com.au/news/netball-experience-life-changing-emma-bastable