'I'm here to educate': Why Tori wants you to ask the question

TORI Groves-Little isn't going to make a big deal if you get their pronoun wrong.

"I'm not here to have a dig, I'm here to educate," they said.

Groves-Little, the 21-year-old utility that plays for Gold Coast has recently come out as the first non-binary athlete in the NAB AFL Women's competition.

Like any 'first', it's a big step, one they say is "daunting and scary", but one they're comfortable doing.

It's been a journey.

Tori Groves-Little with teammates at the Gold Coast AFLW photo shoot in December, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

For Groves-Little it's the latest step in being comfortable in their own body. Born AFAB (assigned female at birth), they came out as gay in their teenage years, and after the past 12 months of accepting themselves as non-binary, it was the next logical move.

"There's two parts of being non-binary," they said.

"There's one where you're more gender-fluid where you could wake up and feel more feminine or one day you feel more masculine.

"And there's the second one, which I identify more as, is neither.

"It sucks medically when you've got to put male or female, it just doesn’t feel right.

"It's just gender-neutral, I guess. I don't like to identify as either."

Gold Coast's Tori Groves-Little warms up ahead of a practice match against Brisbane in December, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

In practical terms, Groves-Little doesn't want to be known as a he or a she, instead, as a they or a them.

They want you to ask if you're unsure, saying gender pronouns shouldn't be assumed.

That's not to say everyone will nail it every time. Groves-Little said in the AFLW environment, they totally understood if a coach or teammate said something like "bring it in, girls".

But on an individual, one-to-one basis, the young Sun wants to see an effort.

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"If you do say 'she' is really good at footy, it's a quick (change) to 'they'," Groves-Little said.

"Try not to make a big deal out of it, because if you make a big deal, it makes me awkward and then it makes you awkward.

"Everyone is different. You can have people that are strict and pull you up, but I'm all about educating."

Groves-Little first posted about their decision on Instagram in mid-October, slowly getting around to tell family, friends and teammates as they became more comfortable.

The support has been overwhelming after admitting they were initially scared to tell their parents.

"To come out once was one thing and coming out twice is another thing, but it was much easier for me," Groves-Little said.

"I understand it's hard to have your daughter come out and say they want to be called child, or gender-neutral pronouns.

"I think it was really hard for mum and dad, but they're slowly getting there, which is good.

"I'm comfortable in my own body."

Gold Coast's Tori Groves-Little is tackled against Adelaide in round six, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

Groves-Little says they understand the impact this could have on the broader AFLW community.

It's about continuing the conversation and continuing to learn and educate.

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"There's not too much about it that would offend me because I know you don't know," they said.

"If you just ask the question, I'm happy with it.

"If I do get misgendered via a pronoun, don't make it a big deal like 'oh my god, I just called you she', just correct yourself and move on.

"If you meet someone new, just ask their pronoun.

"I definitely reckon there's more (non-binary) people out there and it's just when you come to accepting it and being yourself.

"It took me this whole year to finally accept it in a way.

"I know you're going to get some backlash, but you deal with anything. It doesn't really faze me to be honest, which is good.

"To be the first in the AFLW environment is daunting and scary, but I'm comfortable in myself now and in my body, so if you're confident it's not as nerve-racking.

"I hope I can educate people who fall into the community, but other allies as well … reach out and have a chat."