Former Olympian Ellia Green, known for their remarkable achievements in rugby sevens, including winning gold at the Rio 2016 Olympics and silver at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, has opened up about being the first ex-Olympian to come out as transgender.

In a recent conversation on the BBC LGBT Sport Podcast, Green who uses he/him and they/them pronouns, spoke with Jack Murley about their journey, including the deeply personal challenges they faced.

One of the pivotal moments in Green’s career was the disappointment of not being selected for the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, a decision attributed to a loss of pace following a knee injury by Australia coach John Manenti. The exclusion was a significant blow for Green, who felt they had let down not only themselves and the team but also their late mother.


“It took me a long time to recover from that,” he tells Murley.

“It was more so disappointment in myself. I didn’t take that kind of failure well at all.”

“I had such a high expectation on myself and I think that after that, it was just about finding myself after such a huge part of my career had come to an end.”

Green shared how this setback was a turning point, leading to a period of self-discovery and the decision to begin their transition. They had planned the surgery well in advance, looking forward to it as a liberating milestone. Despite worries about the reaction from family and friends, Green’s anticipation for this new chapter in their life was filled with happiness and excitement.

“From a long time before, I had already been planning my surgery.”

“The plan didn’t work out in terms of making it to Tokyo, but I knew that I had this to really look forward to. I knew it was going to be the most liberating feeling that I’d ever felt.”

The public revelation of Green’s transition came in August 2022 at the Bingham Cup, a prominent event in LGBTQ+ rugby. In a powerful video, Green spoke about overcoming fears and encouraged others to live their lives authentically. Now approaching their 31st birthday, Green is active on social media, often sharing moments with their partner Vanessa and daughter Tutu. They are also involved in work related to diversity and inclusion, holding ambassador roles.

Green’s story resonates beyond their personal experience, as they hope to inspire and support others facing similar anxieties about transitioning, along with embracing their identity as a trans man and a father.

“Speaking so openly about something that’s so close to me and so private… as much as it gave me so much anxiety, it also gave me a lot of happiness,” he adds.

“I’m sure there are many other people out there that have similar anxieties about going through this process. And I knew if I had this opportunity to speak about something so openly, it could impact someone else’s life.”