Retired footy legend and boxer Sonny Bill Williams has ignited a storm of controversy on social media and been labelled ‘transphobic’ for backing a comment from a woman who ‘thanked God’ her parents wouldn’t let her get a sex change when she was 12.
The 37-year-old, who has been one of the best athletes of his generation across sterling careers in rugby league, union and boxing, took to Twitter on Monday to share a tweet from well-known anti-transgender and anti-vaccination advocate, Doctor Anastasia Maria Loupis.
The Danish doctor’s social media feed is littered with comments about stamping out gay and transgender rights, anti-vaccination sentiments and Donald Trump fan fiction.
Williams re-tweeted a post, quoting 100, 100 to show his strong backing for the views from the controversial Doctor with more than 154k followers. It has since been deleted after the backlash.
Sonny Bill Williams shared a post on his social media, and showed his support with 100% emojis, in which a woman said she was grateful she didn’t get a sex change because ‘she wasn’t transgender, she just idolised her brother’
Footy legend Sonny Bill Williams has sent social media into a tailspin over comments labelled as ‘transphobic’ by some and ‘100 per cent right’ by others
The backing quickly gained traction on social media, and saw many taking aim at the global superstar for what they saw as his ‘transphobic’ views.
‘From ages 4-12 I wore boys clothes, played boy sports and rejected all thing ‘girly’., When my brother teased me for being a girl, I even said that when I got older I would ‘cut my boobs off’. I was not transgender, I just idolised my brother. Thank God my parents were sane,’ the tweet says.
Seen alongside the words were a picture of a young red-headed girl padded up as an American Football player, side-by-side of a glamorous shot of a red-headed woman on a boat holding a beverage.
It is not known who the woman is, but the fact remains the Williams and Dr Loupis clearly believe in the sentiments behind them.
Former Roosters and Bulldogs NRL superstar Sonny Bill Williams has taken to social media to back controversial comments that have been labelled ‘transphobic’
The two-time Rugby World Cup winner, NRL premiership hero with the Bulldogs and Roosters and champion boxer has more than 936,000 Twitter followers, who were divided over the controversial view – though the vast majority were ‘disappointed’ and ‘angry’ with his backing of the controversial comments.
Self-professed ‘butch lesbian’ journalist Alice Soper condemned the remarks, and Williams’ support of them, countering that ‘you are who you are, and the world is better for it’.
Others implored him to use his enormous social media platform to avoid spreading such ‘anti-trans’ views that have the potential to harm transgender individuals.
Given 48.1 per cent of transgender and gender diverse people aged 14 to 25 reported that they had attempted suicide in their lifetime, according to LGBTIQ+ Health Australia, compared to 10 per cent of the general population – it’s a valid fear.
Sonny Bill Williams and wife Alana with children Iman, Aisha, Zaid and Essa
‘Sonny Bill, I had a massive amount of respect for you, both as a rugby league & union player, and as a decent human being. I strongly urge you to listen to more transgender voices, so you can learn and understand how hateful & out of touch spreading this anti-trans rhetoric is,’ one user wrote on Twitter.
‘I assume there are plenty of transphobic personalities, I just wish I never had to see them coming out. Sonny, this is harmful and untrue of many trans journeys. Time to find a trans ally rugby/league player to follow now,’ wrote another.
‘These people have massive platforms, it’s not good,’ commented one, while another wrote that Williams should ‘listen to your trans brothers and sisters … instead of reposting disinformation’.
A small amount of people applauded Williams for his stance, supporting his right to disagree with transgender rights and sex changes.
‘This is right, if kids get a legal right to go through with a lot of their youthful thoughts, with no push back from parents and very little life experience, they will grow up with a tonne of regrets,’ one wrote.
‘What Sonny is saying is true, all that previous behaviour didn’t make her transgender … in today’s climate they would have started hormone blockers,’ another commented.
Sonny Bill Williams has a 9-1-0 boxing record from his 10 professional bouts after a hugely successful footy caeer
According to the Australian federal government’s Health Direct website, those wanting to have gender reassignment surgery must fit this criteria:
- A history of gender incongruence (for six months or more)
- The ability to make a fully informed decision
- Be over the age of 16 for top surgery, or 18 for bottom surgery
- Some surgeons will provide surgery to younger people in very specific situations
- Ensure that any physical or mental health conditions are well managed
Williams has been married to wife Alana Raffie for almost nine years, though in his autobiography You Can’t Stop The Sun From Shining he made the startling revelation that they weren’t in love when they tied the knot in 2014.
Sonny Bill Williams with his wife of almost nine years, Alana. The pair have four children
The pair have four children: Iman, Aisha, Zaid and Essa, and is still considering retiring from professional boxing, though the former footy legend has been very vocal on social media across a variety of issues.
The superstar athlete has been an ambassador for UNICEF in retirement, while he also commentates on rugby union for Stan Sport.