On May 1st I decided to do something I had never done before. I decided to tell a group of soccer players I am transgender. Now, these weren't just any soccer players. They are kids from 8 to 17 years old who play for Portland Community Football Club. I started the club in 2013 because I knew there were kids living in marginalized, under-served communities whose family couldn't afford the high cost of many clubs in Portland, OR.
I knew it was time to be honest with them about my story. I was nervous of course, but I knew it was important not only to be authentic but to also show them that transgender people are not just some negative stereotype in the media or only a tragic story.
So I handed my phone to one of our coaches, I called all the players in from their individual team training sessions and I started talking....
What happened in the days following this is something I could have never predicted. After posting the video to my personal Facebook page and the club page I started receiving multiple media requests. It started with Out Sports and then Huffington Post. Within a week of the video posting it had received thousands of views on YouTube and I was doing media interviews with international news outlets. To see of full list of articles and videos see my LinkedIn Page.
As of writing this there are over 110,000 views of the original video on YouTube and I have received dozens of personal messages from people all over the world expressing their support and gratitude for taking this step to be authentic. And what I discovered through this experience is that being vulnerable and honest is something that people value over almost anything else. Now, let me be clear that I am well aware that the privilege of my white skin and clearly male gender presentation allowed me to receive a lot more positive attention than other transgender people receive in our society. So, while I am more than willing to be a spokesperson for transgender rights and awareness I am completely conscious of the fact that my story doesn't come close to representing all the stories of the transgender community. But my hope is that this will hopefully open up the conversation about gender for everyone. Because at the end of the day we all have a gender identity.