A Canadian teen is making waves as his high school football team’s first openly transgender player.
Kennedy Cooley said he transferred to Halifax West High School in Halifax, Canada for his senior year because he’d heard that students there would be more accepting of his gender identity than his previous school, CTV News reports.
The 17-year-old, who wants to become a graphic designer or a firefighter, said he was initially apprehensive about joining Halifax West’s football team. Once he did, however, he found that his teammates weren’t fazed by his presence.
“I’d heard that a lot of the guys are like family. They really get along together, they all know each other, and they’re really close friends,” he said. “Everybody was so accepting, it’s amazing.”
Kennedy’s father, Robert Cooley, told ABC News that he hopes his son’s story will encourage other parents of transgender kids to embrace their differences.
“It isn’t always easy, but at the end of the day, your goal as a parent is to make sure your child is a productive citizen in society,” he said. “When we look at him, we see that he is a good kid.”
Head coach David Kelly told CTV News that Cooley “seems to get along with everybody,” and is helping to give his teammates “a perspective that they probably would not have had before.”
Even at a time when more professional athletes are identifying as LGBT, it’s still heartening to hear stories like Kennedy’s.