The founder and director of a soccer club in Portland, Oregon came out to his players as transgender this week and the moving moment was captured and uploaded to YouTube in a beautiful video titled “Authenticity.”
Kaig Lightner, 37, who heads up Portland Community Football Club, told his players he decided to share his identity with them not only because he felt like he needed to, but because the sporting world has a number of different ways of negatively regulating the gender of athletes.
“Some of you may or may not know this, but I am transgender,” Lightner says in the video. “What that means is that I was born a girl, and that I grew up playing soccer as a girl. And that’s not something I share with players or people in the sports world very often because it’s not an easy thing. We have a lot of rules in sports about how boys play and how girls play. And that’s not really fair.”
Lightner told HuffPost that the response to his coming out was positive and affirming. He’s received an outpouring of support not only from players, but from parents as well.
“The best thing has been how normal everything has been,” he said in an email. “Practice went on that day as normal. I coached as I always have and the kids played as they always have.”
And the biggest surprise of all? When Lightner asked if anyone had a question, the response was a non-plussed “How old are you?” ― not any inquiries about his gender identity.
“The kids are fascinated with how old I am because most of them think I’m way younger than 37,” Lightner said. “I love kids!”
He went on to say that he hopes that his coming out moment will help contribute to future transgender visibility in the sporting world.
“I hope that there is just more visibility for trans folks in general, but especially in the sports world,” he continued. “I hope that people start to reflect on what gender means. I hope that people look at someone like myself who they would probably read as just another other typical guy as start to question what that means. Gender identity is something that each and every one of has, but it’s rare that most folks are forced to analyze what that means for themselves. I hope this video creates dialogue, questions and conversations among athletes, coaches, teachers, parents, etc.”