In a video posted to YouTube, Kumi Yokoyama — a soccer player on Japan’s women’s national team, as well as the Washington Spirit — came out as a transgender man. The video was posted to the YouTube channel of Yokoyama’s former teammate, Yuki Nagasato, on Sunday.
Yokoyama, who played for Japan in the 2019 World Cup, said she was encouraged to come out publicly after living in Germany and the United States.
“I’ve dated several women over the years but I had to stay closeted in Japan,” Yokoyama said. “In Japan I’d always be asked if I had a boyfriend, but here [in the United States] I’m asked if I have a boyfriend or girlfriend.”
“When my girlfriend said there was no reason for me to stay closeted, it really hit me. Coming out wasn’t something I was enthusiastic about, but if I think about my life going forward, it would be harder to live closeted, so I found the courage to come out.”
Yokoyama is not the first soccer player to come out as transgender. Canadian midfielder Quinn came out in September and wore a “Protect Trans Kids” sweatshirt before a June match, helping Yokoyama in their announcement.
“[Quinn] wore a [sweatshirt] that said ‘Protect Trans Kids’ before a game, and I realised that it was what taking action looks like,” Yokoyama said. “To be able to accept people you have no relationship with, that’s the kind of person I would like to become and I hope we can create that society.”
According to ESPN, Yokoyama underwent “top surgery” at 20 years old and will have further surgeries following their retirement from soccer.
“Lately the word ‘LGBTQ’ has become more commonly known in Japan and been covered by the media, but people in my position aren’t able to raise our voices and talk about it,” Yokoyama said. “Japan may be a small country, but if all of us speak up together then we can help raise awareness.”
The topic of transgender participation in athletics was already the subject of conversation, with Laurel Hubbard of New Zealand becoming the first openly transgender athlete to participate in the Olympics this week.
According to The Daily Wire, “Hubbard transitioned in 2013, and became eligible to compete in the Olympics after the International Olympic Committee changed its rules in 2015, allowing transgender athletes to compete with athletes of the gender of which they identify “as long as the athlete’s testosterone measured below 10 nanomoles per liter for at least a year prior to competing.”
Hubbard — who is 43-years-old — transitioned in 2013 after competing in men’s weightlifting competitions and has had enormous success in women’s weightlifting, setting four New Zealand national weightlifting records in 2017.
Although concern over Hubbard’s inclusion in the Olympic games has become a taboo subject, there have been a few athletes who have been willing to speak out. According to The Daily Wire, former Olympic weightlifter Tracey Lambrechs said that athletes were told to keep quiet if they complained about having to compete against Hubbard.
Lambrechs blasted allowing biological men to compete against women in sports during an interview with Television New Zealand (TVNZ) last week, according to Reuters. Lambrechs comments come as the 43-year-old Hubbard is poised to become the first transgender athlete to compete in the Olympics, assuming they can qualify under the New Zealand Olympic Committee (NZOC) regulations for fitness and performance.
“I’m quite disappointed, quite disappointed for the female athlete who will lose out on that spot,” Lambrechs said. “We’re all about equality for women in sport but right now that equality is being taken away from us.”
“I’ve had female weightlifters come up to me and say, ‘What do we do? This isn’t fair, what do we do?’ Unfortunately, there’s nothing we can do because every time we voice it we get told to be quiet,” she continued.
Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers, and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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