In a YouTube video with a former Japan teammate, Washington Spirit forward Kumi Yokoyama revealed they are transgender.
Kumi uses they/them pronouns...and don't forget it!— Washington Spirit (@WashSpirit) June 19, 2021
Kumi Yokoyama, a Washington Spirit and Japan forward, came out as a transgender man in a video posted to Yuki Nagasato's YouTube channel on Sunday.
https://t.co/j1G5zv3wQJ— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) June 22, 2021
Yokoyama becomes the second ever transgender player in the National Women’s Soccer League. OL Reign’s Quinn came out as transgender in September of last year.
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Yokoyama — who uses they/them pronouns — gives some credit of their coming out process to the accepting environments of the United States and Germany. They played for Frankfurt from 2017-2018 and joined the Washington Spirit in 2020.
“In Japan I’d always be asked if I had a boyfriend,” they said. “But (in the United States) 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, 27, had top surgery seven years ago to remove breast tissue. They haven’t been using hormones or had hormonal treatments to avoid failing doping tests. Yokoyama’s plan is to go through with further procedures after they retire.
Answering A Question I’ve Seen Asked A Lot
“Why do people feel the need to come out? I don’t come out as straight.”
In the past week, Yokoyama has come out as transgender and Las Vegas Raiders’ player Carl Nassib came out as gay. A good amount of people ask why athletes feel the need to do this.
Las Vegas Raiders DE Carl Nassib comes out as gayHe also announced a $100K donation to the Trevor Project, a suicide prevention organization for LGBTQ youth. pic.twitter.com/5Xobd9s0pp
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) June 21, 2021
One big reason this is done is to bring awareness and let other members of the LGBTQ+ community see a prominent athlete who is similar to them. It’s highly likely there are gay American football players out there who feel inspired to know someone like them is playing in the National Football League. It’s equally possible a transgender soccer player sees Yokoyama as an inspiration.
Yokoyama said in the interview they hope to bring LGBTQ+ awareness to Japan.
“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,” Yokoyama said. “Japan may be a small country, but if all of us speak up together then we can help raise awareness.”
There are plenty more reasons why people feel the need to come out. One athlete I talked to in the past told me that she felt like she was living a double life by not telling people she was gay. The more accepting people become of each other, there could come a day when people and athletes no longer must go through the coming out process.
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