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23 Jun, 2021 10:18

‘I’m so proud’: Biden says children are ‘seeing themselves in a new light’ after women’s football star reveals transgender switch

‘I’m so proud’: Biden says children are ‘seeing themselves in a new light’ after women’s football star reveals transgender switch

US president Joe Biden has enthusiastically backed Japan international and US National Women's Soccer League star Kumi Yokoyama, who has said that her girlfriend encouraged her to find "courage" to come out as a transgender man.

The 43-cap midfielder described how she had breast tissue removed around 20 years ago, confiding in Yuki Nagasato, a striker who is the first female to play for the first team of a Japanese men's club, in a video interview.

Yokoyama said her time in the US and previous spell in Germany, where she played for Frankfurt, had made her feel more comfortable about disclosing her gender change.

"I've dated several women over the years but I had to stay closeted in Japan," the Asian Cup winner admitted.

"In Japan, I'd always be asked if I had a boyfriend, but here [in the US] 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 thanked Biden and suggested she had been left in tears by his words after he gave his backing to the announcement and offered his admiration to Carl Nassib, who has come out as the NFL's first gay player.

"Two prominent, inspiring athletes who came out this week," said the head of state, addressing the pair.

"I’m so proud of your courage. Because of you, countless kids around the world are seeing themselves in a new light today."

Yokoyama plans to have more surgery after retiring from football and uses a they/their pronoun.

"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," she added.

"Japan may be a small country, but if all of us speak up together then we can help raise awareness."

The Spirit announced their support for Yokoyama. "We support and are so proud of you, Kumi," they told the 2019 Women's World Cup star.

"Thank you for showing the world it's OK to embrace who you are."

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