By David “Dirk” Smith, M.Sc., CSCS, SDL
Our managing editor of sports, David “Dirk” Smith, M.Sc., CSCS, SDL, recently caught up with the founder and leader of “Kicking Out Transphobia” (KoT). KoT is a soccer tournament specifically focused on developing trans and nonbinary peoples teams, organizations, and communities in soccer by creating a space free of discrimination to do sport in a safe and inclusive environment.
David Smith (DS): For those unaware, tell us about the background and concept of “Kickout Out Transphobia”?
Yunio Martinez (YM): Kicking Out Transphobia is now more than a fundraiser tournament, it is a community project that started in Philadelphia three years ago during COVID. We were looking to find a way to give back to our community and what a better way than using soccer to support the under-served members of our community. The concept is easy: “teams get together to compete and donate to the cause as well as everyone else.” They donate to the cause by supporting our raffle auction, we also occasionally get sponsorships, but those really help to cover a lot of expenses of the tournament.
YM: The support of the community is been so great! We started with 8 teams and one division, now we’ve hosted different editions all over the USA. We organized events like PLAY PHILLY SPORTS and PROTECT TEXAS TRANS KIDS. This year we hosted exhibition matches in other cities in the United States, like Las Vegas, Seattle, and San Francisco where trans youth have the opportunity to play. Lindsay, from SF Girls Unite said it so great,“to see those happiness faces in the field, it was the doing those kinds of events are so important for them.” We also hosted a Flash tournament in Washington DC raising $2000 for the Wanda Alston Foundation and the first Kicking Out Transphobia en Mexico where all the LGBTQ+ teams came together to raise awareness for the community.
“First of all , in ANADE Mexico, we are always looking for partnerships to work together against any discrimination in sports,” Ivan Lara President de la ANADE Mexico shared their perspective on the event. “And we know is very important support and fight against transphobia, And the visibility for them should be primordial because the violence and attacks about that community is too much, specially in Mexico when we are the second country with most trans people killed in the world and if we don’t do nothing right now to protect our trans kids they are going to go through the same.”
DS: What are some Kicking Out Transphobia events coming up that people should know about?
YM: As right now all our energy is in the Philadelphia event, we have partnered with Starfinder who believes all of the city’s youth deserve the opportunity to learn, thrive, and grow. Just like us they use soccer as a tool to inspire social change and transform the lives of people from underserved communities.but also thanks to the support of the Trans Justice Funding Project we are organizing a whole campaign to raise awareness for the community during Transgender Day of Remembrance this coming November 20th. And I’m sure the events we organized this year are going to continue because we still need awareness and support from our community. As Jim from Federal Triangles DC puts it…
“Because it makes sense, and because it’s part of the community. The main reason is that the beautiful game has an ugly side. Like the world we live in, it can be intimidating, unwelcoming, and even cruel at times. This was an opportunity to stand up and visibly show our support through the sport that we love, and to raise some much needed funds for a few local charities who actively support the local trans community. It’s important that our sport is accessible and enjoyed by everyone. It’s important that we continue to make this a part of our on-going efforts and try to make the beautiful game a little more beautiful.”
DS: As a trans/nonbinary person, how has Kicking Out Transphobia helped shape your relationship with sports?
YM: Soccer is for me mas que un juego (more than a game), as always said and I have been involved in all the roles as a player, organizer, referee, coach and a fan. Just to be myself in the field is joy and I always try to wear a rainbow. It isn’t for people to know because there is someone that really need to see the rainbow and find out they aren’t alone. We are queer and we aren’t going nowhere.
Jack from Baltimore Queer Soccer Club says…
“I’ve been playing soccer since I was a kid, and it wasn’t until my early 30s that I got to step out onto a field that was truly inclusive. Playing in the Kicking Out Transphobia Tournament is what gave me that experience. During the tournament, I had the privilege of playing with trans and gender-expansive people united with cisgender teammates, and I never thought I would get that opportunity. No one cared what our gender was. No one policed our bodies. We all just gotta play. It was beautiful. It was so moving and we are back this year.
DS: As a trans/nonbinary person, how has participating in Kicking Out Transphobia helped shape your identity?
YM: In my personal experience I recently came out as Genderqueer in the Transgender umbrella, I don’t want to call myself trans because I haven’t transitioned but also if this world wouldn’t be full of transphobia i probably would have transited, however I think being involved on this really helped me to find out who I’m and even I can’t really be myself I hope new generations have a better opportunity and don’t let this world to hide who you are.
DS: What do you see in regard of future growth for Kicking Out Transphobia?
YM: I have a special cariño for this project and I would love to see every country and city hosting different s events to raise awareness and funds for the trans community, maybe have a All Trans World Cup Competition and continue running more campaigns using sports as a way to bring awareness.
Just to see the volunteers worked tirelessly to organize and run this inclusive event and it is truly wonderful to see all the players playing while being their authentic selves. It was an outstanding event for a very important cause and I am looking forward to supporting trans rights .”