A veteran Dulwich Hamlet supporter has defended trans-football after the team’s upcoming game against a transgender squad sparked controversy.
Paula Griffin, who has supported Dulwich “on and off” for 30 years, highlighted the importance of trans-football and challenged criticisms of it.
Her remarks follow the News‘ report that Dulwich Hamlet women’s team will, at one point, play against a squad of solely transgender women in a “world-first” this week. The story created a storm on Twitter, attracting hundreds of comments and reactions.
Paula will play for TRUK United FC Women as a trans player when they compete against Dulwich Hamlet Women this Thursday. She also plays for Peckham Town Women and Goal Diggers. However, she is not speaking on behalf of any team.
“It is a very special game,” said the Bermondsey local. “We as transwomen are women and we deserve to play.
“It is important to show that we belong on the same pitch, that we are accepted and welcome. There shouldn’t be any policing of our gender,” she added.
Paula challenged online comments that transwomen have an unfair physical advantage against women in football.
“Have they ever looked at female athletes? Women come in all shapes and sizes. I have played against women who are taller and stronger than me in every way. There is no difference.
“Michael Phelps [the most decorated Olympian swimmer of all time] is physically different from his opponents. No one looks at his physical advantage.”
She also pointed out that skill is “not gender-based.”
“There are female players who run rings around me. To be good at scoring goals you need to be fearless and slightly mad, you don’t have to be a man to have those.”
Paula says she was “knocked back” by how supportive her opponents at Dulwich Women had been.
“Dulwich Women’s team have been incredibly supportive,” she said. “They are treating it as any other game. We will play a normal match.”
She continued: “Dulwich is such a progressive team. The whole atmosphere at their football games has changed dramatically. We do get problems and there is always a backlash from laddish supporters, but we are trying to make the game more and more for everyone.”
Despite the negative criticism, Paula said nothing would stop her from playing.
“I am massively looking forward to the game not only because it is the first time transwomen are taking to the field, but it is the first time a trans team has played a competitive game at Champion Hill.”
She did not believe the online hostility would reach the pitch.
“In my experience, people in real life are really supportive. Once I had a big pile on from Millwall supporters on the web, but nobody turned up. It’s like when you are a child and you ring the doorbell and run away.”
Instead, Paula saw “so much solidarity” from fans, although she was not surprised by the negative reaction to the News story.
“Men come on Twitter and claim they are talking for women,” says Paula. “But really they are talking over women.
“They do not want to hear the opinions of Dulwich women, it goes against their beliefs and gender ideology.”