Swimming Australia officials are reportedly fuming over a giant billboard campaigning against transgender women in female sport – which features the photos of several prominent Aussie athletes.
The Advance Australia billboard, which pictures Olympians Emma McKeon, Dawn Fraser and Emily Seebohm, was spotted on a truck moving around the seat of Warringah on the city’s northern beaches, at the weekend.
The federal election campaign in the area has been roiled by inflammatory tweets issued by Liberal candidate Katherine Deves, 44 – one of Australia’s most prominent campaigners against trans women competing in female sports.
Each of the three swimmers has spoken out against trans women competing – and the ad doubles down on that, saying ‘Women’s sport is not for men’ and attacking independent MP Zali Steggall.
The ad was spotted by independent MP Zali Steggall in Manly at the weekend and was promptly blasted by Swimming Australia
Liberal candidate Katherine Deves (pictured), 44, is one of Australia’s most prominent campaigners against trans women competing in female sports
Ms Steggall – who is a former Olympic bronze medallist and Austalia’s best-ever alpine skier – is Ms Deves’ main political rival and current MP in the seat of Warringah.
She previously slammed Ms Deves’ opinions as ‘transphobic.
Swimming Australia chief executive Eugenie Buckley issued a scathing statement warning its lawyers have demanded the billboard be shelved, after the organisation wasn’t asked for approval for its imagery.
‘Swimming Australia strongly condemns the use of imagery of our athletes, past and present, by the Advance Australia party in recent political advertising,’ Ms Buckley said.
‘Consent to use the imagery was never sought prior to its publication, neither from Swimming Australia nor the individuals involved. For clarity, if it was sought it, would have been categorically denied.
Independent MP Zalil Steggall (pictured) said parents concerned about transgender athletes competing in women’s sport are repeating a ‘transphobia line’
‘I mean, I personally wouldn’t want to be racing against someone who is biologically a male, so that’s a concern,’ Emma McKeon (pictured) said at Griffith University’s A Better Future For All seminar this week.
‘Swimming Australia does not endorse this, or any message, from the Advance Australia party. Swimming Australia has issued a legal notice to the Advance Australia party and expects the imagery to be removed from circulation immediately.
‘Swimming Australia believes in a competitive environment that is inclusive, fair and equitable for all athletes at the same time. Ultimately, all Australians deserve to feel welcome, safe, valued and celebrated in swimming.’
The women pictured on the billboard each came out last week and said they do not think transgender women should compete against biological women in sports competitions.
Four-time olympic gold medal winner Dawn Fraser told the Daily Telegraph that she didn’t think it was ‘fair to have transgender men’ competing against women.
‘Why don’t transgender people compete against each other? That would solve all the problems,’ Fraser suggested.
Ms McKeon (pictured) told a seminar it was unlikely she would ever personally encounter the issue
Emma McKeon, a five-time gold medallist, said swimming would eventually need to ‘deal with’ transgender women competing because it’s ‘just not fair’.
‘I mean, I personally wouldn’t want to be racing against someone who is biologically a male, so that’s a concern,’ McKeon said at Griffith University’s A Better Future For All seminar this week.
‘It’s not a new thing, but it’s new in that sport, swimming, are going to have to deal with it.’
McKeon told the seminar it was unlikely she would ever personally encounter the issue.
‘I don’t think I’m going to have to race against a trans swimmer, I don’t think it’s going to come to that point,’ she said.
Four-time olympic gold medal winner, Ms Fraser (pictured), has said she doesn’t think it is ‘fair to have transgender men’ competing against women
‘But now that it’s a growing thing, the sport has to think about how to handle it and how to deal with it, because you do want to be inclusive, but you don’t want to have females racing against swimmers who are biologically male because it’s just not fair.’
McKeon’s Olympic teammate Emily Seebohm said while swimming should be inclusive for everyone, she would not want to compete against a transgender woman due to their biologically superior strength.
‘Obviously, we want everyone to be involved. I love my sport and I want to share it with everyone,’ she told Today.
‘But we also need to think about what’s fair for the athletes and how they prepare and perform – we need to have that same level playing field just like we do with drugs in sport.’
Daily Mail Australia has approached Advance Australia for comment.
Death threats force terrified family of controversial Liberal candidate to flee their home – as she expresses remorse for past anti-transgender tweets
Controversial Liberal candidate Katherine Deves has revealed her family have been forced to move out of Sydney after receiving death threats over her anti-transgender social media posts.
The lawyer, 44, who was handpicked by Scott Morrison to run in the marginal seat of Warringah against Independent MP Zali Steggall, caused a stir after publishing, then deleting, a series of inflammatory tweets.
The comments described transgender people as ‘surgically mutilated and sterilised’, claimed half of men with trans identities were ‘sex offenders’, and compared her pursuit to barring the community from women’s sports to stopping the Holocaust.
Breaking her silence on SBS on Sunday after the scandal sparked calls for her to be disendorsed, Ms Deves admitted her ‘arguments was not conducive to proper, reasonable debate’.
She said the interview with the program had to take place in a secret location as her safety has been jeopardised.
Liberal candidate Katherine Deves (pictured) has broken her silence over her controversial transgender comments
‘I have received death threats, I have had to have the police and AFP involved, my safety has been threatened, my family are way out of Sydney because I don’t want them to witness what I am going through and nor do I want their safety put at risk,’ she said.
Ms Deves said ‘as a mother and woman’ she now realises her arguments were expressed inappropriately and reissued an apology for her ‘hurtful and divisive’ language.
‘It was not the appropriate platform to do so, I have removed myself from that platform and I will not be going back there again,’ she said.
Asked what her message was to young and vulnerable trans kids who may have heard her comments, Ms Deves said her position was about ‘women’s rights’.
‘This is about women ‘s rights. With this issue, we have a collision of rights, and thus far, the voices of women and girls have not been heard,’ she said.
‘And when we have a collision of rights, in liberal democracies, we debate them in a reasonable, measured fashion, and this is what should have taken place is.’
Ms Deves (pictured with her family) said her family have been forced to leave Sydney amid fears for their safety
The apology comes hours after the Prime Minister doubled down on his support for the controversial candidate, despite mounting pressure from some within the Liberal Party to ‘dump her’ from the ticket.
‘The issue is fundamentally about women and girls in sport,’ Mr Morrison told reporters during his campaign trail in Alice Springs on Sunday.
‘Katherine Deves has made her comments about comments she has made in the past and she knows a sensitive approach is required in the future.’
Ms Deves has become a divisive figure following a number of provocative comments on her Twitter account – which she has since deleted.
She once declared trans teenagers are ‘surgically mutilated’ and felt personally ‘triggered’ by the rainbow Pride flag.
The Warringah candidate also bizarrely linked cross-dressing males and and trans women to ‘sexual predators, even serial killers’.
‘Transvestism is very common among sexual predators, even serial killers,’ she said in a historical tweet.
‘So how are we women supposed to tell the difference between the ones who are a threat and the ones who aren’t? Easier for women to exclude all males from spaces where we are vulnerable.’
Last September Ms Deves described the prospect of two gay men having a baby as a ‘vanity project.’
‘Surrogacy is a human rights violation,’ she tweeted. ‘Women’s bodies are not vehicles for a vanity project.’
Ms Deves was referring to Pete Buttigieg, the first openly gay U.S. presidential candidate, and his husband, who are joint fathers of twin girls.
In another tweet, Ms Deves said ‘transablism’ – where trans people pretend to be disabled – is ‘a thing’ and likened people in that category to a well-known serial killer.
Ms Deves was handpicked by Scott Morrison to run in the marginal seat of Warringah against Independent MP Zali Steggall
‘Didn’t (infamous serial killer) Ted Bundy pretend to be injured to garner sympathy?’ she asked.
In tweets that resurfaced just after the Prime Minister endorsed her for the seat of Warringah, Ms Deves said transgender children who underwent sex reassignment surgery were ‘surgically mutilated and sterilised’.
She shared a picture of a trans American teenager in November who had just had breasts removed and wrote: ‘This photo just hit my feed. It is beyond heartbreaking.’
In a second tweet she added: ‘They will not stand for seeing vulnerable children surgically mutilated and sterilised in futherance of an unattainable idea.
‘The lawsuits will be legion, as will the government inquiries. Complete failure of safeguarding. Mark my words.’
The original image had been shared on social media by a parent of the teenager who underwent the breast removal.
The caption read: ‘So we are on day 10 post op, keyhole. Just got home from my son getting his drains out. Wow, he went from misery of post op to YAY! NO TITTIES!!! Anyway, he 100% gave permission to share this pic’.
Earlier this week, Mr Morrison stood by his ‘captain’s pick’ vowing that he would not let her become a victim of ‘cancel culture’ and slamming the social media pile-on against her.
‘She is standing up for women and girls and their access to fair sport in this country,’ the PM said.
‘She has learned in her advocacy in her private life there are better ways to do things to take things forward as a Member of Parliament.
‘I believe that is how she will approach the task if she is elected as the member for Warringah, and I don’t think she should be silenced.’