Kumi Yokoyama, a forward for the Washington Spirit of the National Women’s Soccer League, came out as a transgender man on Sunday.
Yokoyama, who played for Japan in the 2019 women’s World Cup, said they had to stay closeted in their native country but found that the U.S. had a more accepting attitude.
“When my girlfriend said there was no reason for me to stay closeted, it really hit me,” they said in a YouTube video posted by fellow Japanese and NWSL player Yuki Nagasato, per ESPN. “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, 27, signed with the Spirit in 2019. They have started a few games in the 2021 season after starting eight games in 2020.
The Spirit tweeted support for Yokoyama and the language on the team’s website reflected Yokoyama’s preference for they/them pronouns.
Yokoyama said they were inspired by the coming-out of transgender Canadian soccer player Quinn, a member of the NSWL’s OL Reign.
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