My story: The Trans Footballer
23rd August 2023
This is an article documenting my experiences as a trans footballer over the course of the football season. This blog was first triggered by seeing transphobic tweets about me. Writing this blog made me realise that nothing like this really exists for people to read about the trans experience in sport, especially football, so I would like to change that. I hope you enjoy it, and find it enlightening. I decided I wanted my voice heard, rather than the voices of strangers on the internet.
Trans voices need to be heard, so here is mine.
I am the trans footballer.
I am writing this on Google docs and it wants me to change “the” to “a”, but I won’t, because I am the trans footballer.
I play in the lowest level of women’s football administered by the SWF.
I score goals, because I am a striker, and I am good at scoring goals.
I am also a human being, with feelings, intense feelings. I am hurt, upset, angry, and fucking tired of this shit.
I am tired of men who have no involvement talking about me playing the sport I love. I am tired of people who weren’t there having things to say. And, I scored 3 fucking goals, not 2, so get your facts straight. I didn’t get an assist though. Shoddy journalism. Since then, I have played another game. We lost 4-1. I didn’t score or get an assist. The other team’s striker was taller than me, a similar build, and she was, annoyingly, better than me. SHE scored, but I didn’t see any tweets about how that was unfair. Because it isn’t. I guess it doesn’t fit the terf narrative though.
There were also some comments about how I am taking spaces away from cis girls and that is unfair. Let me tell you, we need more girls playing football. We only had two subs and they were both trialists. One of our players had to leave at half time so in the second half we had one sub. PLEASE, we need more girls. I am not fit enough for 90 minutes. I would also say, why shouldn’t trans women get to play? We have been eligible to play for years. And let me just shut down the idea of a trans league right away. As far as I am aware that would be me by myself kicking a ball against a wall.
The man who tweeted about me incited hatred towards me on his public platform. He didn’t name me, thankfully, even though I am pretty sure he knows who I am. Just to catch everyone up, multiple journalists (mostly men) have been trying to get in touch directly with me, with one wanting to publish an article using my full name earlier in the year. They would have risked facing legal consequences because let’s be real, publicly calling out a trans woman makes her a target for hatred. They know this. Everyone knows this. The climate in this country is so hateful towards trans women in particular. Transmisogyny is rampant in this country. Every single policy targeting trans people in reality is designed to target trans women, and unfortunately all trans people get caught in the crossfire. On top of this, all women get caught in the crossfire.
Once you start trying to regulate women’s bodies, even more than they already are, all women can become suspect. Questions about what makes a woman womanly enough are raised. “Is that 5 ’11” woman trans??” “She looks strong, is she trans?” “She has a strong jawline, she must be trans!” It will become a witch hunt. How do you decide who to accuse? Who to test? Who to ban? I am sure if every single player registered with the SWF had to do blood tests for their hormone levels there would be plenty of cis women shocked that their testosterone levels are above the normal range, or even the permitted range. Just look at how Caster Semenya has been treated. Which brings me to another point. The rules about testosterone levels and what are deemed feminine qualities in women are incredibly white and eurocentric, they are racist. Black women would be disproportionately negatively affected by increased testing of hormone levels.
I am not the tallest in the league, or my team. Nor the strongest, and not the fastest. Although I am pretty fast. That’s my whole thing.
The great thing about football is it’s for all types of people. A team of people with the same physical qualities would not be a good team. It’s fun to go against people with different strengths and weaknesses, and to try and suss them out, and exploit their weaknesses whilst avoiding their strengths. That’s how you win. We see again and again in football of all levels, teams trying to exploit height advantages, speed advantages, or strength advantages. Bunny Shaw and Mayra Ramirez were dangerous because of their physicality in the World Cup. Both of their teams were knocked out.
I don’t think I’m physically or technically good enough to play at a much higher level. I would like to find out though if there are any teams out there willing to give me a shot….
I know though, that elite women would run circles around me. They would muscle me off the ball with ease. In every game I am brought down much more than I bring others down already. I get kicked, I get battered. I am sore for days afterwards. But I love it. I love the competition.
Even if a trans woman were to play at the highest level, it would be because she is good. Because she deserved it, because she worked fucking hard to make it, overcoming countless more hurdles than almost anyone else.
I cannot stress how much playing football with my girls has done for me. When I first joined it was the scariest thing I had ever done. I had never been in a women’s only space before, because of the fear of being unwelcome. But I was welcomed with open arms. Whenever anything happened they supported me. No woman has ever questioned me being there. Just men on twitter. I think men making my life hard is unfortunately one of the key indicators that I am viewed as a woman in society. I made it. Slay.
I don’t have much of a platform, playing at the level that I do. But I want to speak up and say to trans girls everywhere, play football. It will suck sometimes. But life sucks for us a lot of the time anyway. We can’t walk down the street without stares and harassment most days. BUT, it will also bring you so much joy. And joy in the face of adversity is the most radical thing. My teammates, my fucking girls, support me so much. They stand up for me. They support me when I am not there. They speak up and do the work on my behalf without even burdening me with the knowledge of the hate I am getting online. I love them.
I just want to play the sport I love, I want to score goals and help my team, and I want to do it with my girls who I love.
The trans footballer.
Note: this blog was updated on 30th August 2023 to reflect feedback for accuracy.