Super Netball import Sam Wallace-Joseph has apologised after coming under fire for her stance on the International Transgender Day of Visibility falling on the same day as Easter Sunday.

Held every March 31 since 2009, the day has been set up as a celebration of pride and awareness, while aiming to recognise trans and gender-diverse achievements.

Wallace-Joseph, a two-time NSW Swifts champion, shared a clickbait headline from a Canadian outlet that insinuated US President Joe Biden had “declared” Easter Sunday would be the recurring day for International Transgender Day of Visibility moving forward.

“The disrespect is crazy. Don’t play with God,” Wallace captioned an Instagram story.

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The day’s crossover with Easter this year was used by some to criticise the US president and suggest he was co-opting a religious holiday to promote trans rights, but Biden was showing his support for the day to “honour the extraordinary courage and contribution of transgender Americans”.

Fans criticised Wallace-Joseph’s post and pointed out the misleading nature of the headline, but the Trinidad and Tobago shooter doubled down.

“I’m not hating on people, if you know me you will understand … I have heaps of gay friends and am not judging anyone on their gender,” she wrote on X (formerly known as Twitter).

Wallace-Joseph also confirmed she still planned to play in the NSW Swifts Pride Match in May.

The Instagram story and relevant tweets have since been deleted after intervention from the Super Netball club, which distanced itself from her comments the same night.

“The NSW Swifts are aware of a social media post that has caused understandable hurt to members of the transgender community,” a statement read.

“The views expressed in the post are not shared by the club.”

A meeting was held the next day between the NSW Swifts and Wallace-Joseph, resulting in an apology.

“It was not my intention to upset and disrespect anybody and whilst I feel my post was taken out of context, I didn’t say what I meant clearly,” Wallace-Joseph said.

“I didn’t wish to cause any offence to members of the transgender community and it is clear that I have and for that I am sorry.”

A Swifts player wears white netball shoes and long ankle socks with rainbow colours and the word SWIFTS

The Swifts wore rainbow-coloured socks during Inclusion Round.(Getty: Mark Kolbe)

The club also reaffirmed its commitment to being an inclusive space for all.

The Super Netball league will now work closely with the Swifts to determine whether Wallace-Joseph has broken the sport’s code of conduct.

Wallace and Housby celebrate

Sam Wallace-Joseph returned for the Swifts in their recent Team Girls Cup victory.(Netball Australia: Jenny Evans)

These guidelines state that “participants must not mix the professional and personal use of social media in ways that could bring Netball Australia, the game of netball, a Super Netball club or member organisation into disrepute”.

Players must also not “post or distribute any content on social media that contains hate speech or is discriminatory in nature”.

The Swifts have featured members of the LGBTQI+ community in past teams and worked with advocacy group Proud2Play to deliver their Pride-themed match during Super Netball’s first Inclusion Round last year, decking out their home venue at Ken Rosewall Arena in rainbow colours.

Wallace-Joseph did not play in the match because she was rehabbing an ACL injury that has sidelined her for the past two years. However, ABC Sport has asked the club whether their star import attended the related Proud2Play education workshops.

According to Proud2Play’s website, “many LGBTQI+ people are disengaged from sport and recreation, as these environments have not kept up with societal change”, with up to 80 per cent of individuals experiencing homophobia on the sports field and 50 per cent of trans people reporting they avoid playing the sports they are interested in.

Ken Rosewall Arena features seat coverings in all colours of the rainbow

The Swifts covered the seats at Ken Rosewall Arena in the colours of the Pride flag for 2023’s Inclusion Round.(AAP: Bianca De Marchi)

Chief executive Christine Granger told ABC Sport the organisation was disappointed to hear the news.

“It is disappointing to see any player making comments that cause harm to a community that already suffers extreme levels of discrimination,” she said.

“It is vital that role models in sports understand the power their voices hold and the impact they can have on individuals and communities in both a positive and negative way.

“It is harmful comments such as this that continue to create barriers to participation in sports by telling our communities that sport is not a safe space for us.

Despite this, Proud2Play said it would continue to work with the NSW Swifts to educate everyone involved with the club about the need for inclusive practices.

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