Sonny Bill Williams caught in 'transphobic' furore over deleted post

The New Zealand sporting icon has found himself at the centre of controversy after being slammed over a social media post.

Pictured left is Sonny Bill Williams and the anti-trans tweet that he responded to on the right.
Sonny Bill Williams deleted a tweet of his that appeared to support anti-trans sentiment. Pic: Getty/Twitter

New Zealand sporting Sonny Bill Williams has found himself at the centre of controversy after being branded "transphobic" over his response to a social media post. The former All Blacks and NRL superstar-turned boxer, replied to a post from a well-known anti-transgender and anti-vaccination advocate, Doctor Anastasia Maria Loupis.

The Danish doctor is an outspoken critic of gender affirmation surgery and has frequently spoken out against gay and transgender rights, while sharing anti-vaccination sentiment. The post in question that has landed Williams in trouble was one from Doctor Loupis about a young girl that identified as a male but is glad her parents "were sane" and didn't allow her to transition to the opposite gender.

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“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 read.

Williams re-tweeted the post by writing: “100, 100", in other words agreeing 100% with the message that the controversial Danish doctor was trying to share about gender affirmation surgery being wrong. Williams - who has some 936,000 followers on Twitter - soon deleted his response to the post, but not before he was slammed by followers, many of whom described the 37-year-old of being "transphobic".

Seen here, Sonny Bill Williams looking on after the weigh-in for the 2022 boxing bout against Mark Hunt.
Sonny Bill Williams looks on after the weigh-in for the 2022 boxing bout against Mark Hunt. Pic: Getty (Mark Evans via Getty Images)

“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.

Another added: 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.

According to a recent study from LGBTIQ+ Health Australia, almost 50% of transgender and gender-diverse people aged between 14 to 25 reported that they had attempted to take their own life, compared to around 10% of the wider population. Many critics of Williams urged the sporting icon to use his platform to promote tolerance and acceptance, rather than support for views that are inherently harmful.

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The two-time Rugby World Cup winner did have some support on social media, with users defending his right to free speech and opposition to sex changes or transgender rights. “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,’ one user said.”

Another added: "This is right, if kids get a legal right to go through with a lot of their youthful thoughts, with no pushback from parents and very little life experience, they will grow up with a tonne of regrets." Regardless of what side of the debate his followers are on, Williams' since-deleted post has proved hugely divisive on social media.

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