Caroline Layt has enough material of her own to tell two lifetimes worth of stories.
The Australian rugger was picked from an open tryout in her early years in the sport and earned a place in the top tiers of men’s rugby while grappling with her gender identity.
She found her truth, and found her way back to the pitch and excelled after a long absence. She earned player-of-the-year honors, while hiding in plain sight. She was outed, vilified, and scrutinized, yet rose up and shone even brighter.
Since hanging up her rugby boots, Layt has become an advocate, journalist, blogger, and most recently a documentary filmmaker.
This week she talked about her life past and present on the Outsports podcast The Trans Sporter Room. True to form as a hard charger with a rugby ball, she brought her thoughts on a number of topics straight ahead in a far-reaching, 50-minute interview.
Layt is currently known for her pointed criticism of World Rugby’s much-talked-about ban of transgender women from competition. The move has been criticized by supporters, clubs, and governing bodies worldwide. Her ire is drawn by the fact that World Rugby didn’t consult a single transgender woman who played the sport or even studied transgender women who play the sport. She took additional exception to how World Rugby ignored her own extensive record as a player.
“I won four national rugby titles for Sydney and I played with and against Wallaroos (nickname for Australia’s national women’s rugby union team),” she told Outsports. “but my experience is ‘anecdotal’? I just find that really laughable.”
Rugby Australia found World Rugby’s conclusions laughable as well. On Sept. 30, the governing body, along seven other main sports federation adopted expanded trans inclusion policies that directly oppose World Rugby’s exclusionary ban. “For me, it meant heaps. It meant everything in the world.” she declared. “Our national rugby body said despite of what World Rugby is doing we aren’t going with that. You can play as a trans woman.”
Such open support wasn’t there when Layt returned to rugby competition in 2004, 9 years after she left a promising run in men’s rugby union play to move forward in her transition. She wrote a first-person account her early struggles in Outsports in 2016. This summer she put her entire sporting history front and center in a self-produced mini-documentary. It told the story of an all-around phenom as a school and college athlete who earned a place in the top ranks of rugby. It also showed how she fought for and found inner peace when she stopped being something she wasn’t and found who she was.
“I was about thirty when I realized this is me and the moment came when I said I’ve got to do this and I’ve got to do this now,” Layt remembered. “I decided I wanted to live and when I made that decision, I never looked back. I don’t regret transitioning for one moment.”
Layt touched on her backstory and on what she’s doing today in The Trans Sporter Room. Of special interest was news about upcoming documentary film centering around a rather bizarre controversy involving LGBTQ support in her homeland, and her sci-fi fandom, which is as fierce as her play on a rugby pitch. Like all Outsports podcasts, The Trans Sporter Room is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify and wherever you find Outsports podcasts!