A Japanese soccer player who competes in the United States’ National Women’s Soccer League announced that they are transgender.
Kumi Yokoyama, a 27-year-old forward for the Washington Spirit, made the announcement over the weekend on former teammate Yuki Nagasato’s YouTube channel.
“I’m coming out now,” Yokoyama said. “In the future, I want to quite soccer and live as a man.”
“We support and are so proud of you Kumi,” the Spirit tweeted. “Thank you for showing the world it’s OK to embrace who you are!”
According to The Associated Press, Yokoyama said they’ve had more comfort with their gender identity since moving to the United States, as transgender is not a legally recognized identity in Japan.
The AP reported that LGBTQ people in Japan lack legal protections and suffer discrimination, leading many to hide their sexual identities. Transgender people in Japan must have their reproductive organs removed in order to have their gender recognized on official documents.
Yokoyama, who played in the 2019 Women’s World Cup, said they would not have come out in Japan, where there was pressure to conform.
“More people in Japan are becoming familiar with the word LGBTQ and it’s seen more (in the media), but I think awareness won’t grow unless people like myself come out and raise our voices,” Yokoyama said.
The Las Vegas Raiders’ Carl Nassib announced he’s gay Monday, becoming the first active NFL player to come out.
Related content: Raiders’ Nassib is NFL’s First Openly Gay Active Player
“To Carl Nassib and Kumi Yokoyama — two prominent, inspiring athletes who came out this week: I’m so proud of your courage,” United States president Joe Biden tweeted. “Because of you, countless kids around the world are seeing themselves in a new light today.”