By Dirk Smith, M.Sc, SDL (He/Him)
Washington Spirits’ own Kumi Yokoyama, came out as transgender earlier this summer, becoming one of only a small few of openly transgender professional athletes. Hailing from Japan, Yokoyama stated,
“I’m coming out now,” Yokoyama said. “In the future, I want to quit soccer and live as a man.”
Using they/them pronouns, Yokoyama’s gender identity is not legally recognized in Japan and Yokoyama has become one of the few LGBTQI Asian athletes who are living openly to help build awareness and education around these issues both in western cultures as well as their home country of Japan and greater Asia as well.
“More people in Japan are becoming familiar with the word LGBTQI 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.
Receiving an outpouring of support from their teammates, team and the National Women’s Soccer League as well as friends, Yokoyama is one of two openly transgender athletes in the NWSL, with the other being fellow Spirit teammate, Quinn.
For Yokoyama, coming out has been all about living life openly and moving forward, for which they have taken the step by proposing to their girlfriend at their home turf on Audi Field. The moment was captured by teammates and fortunately, she said yes!
She said “YES”!
Thank you for everyone!!! pic.twitter.com/BqVFebzGFG
— Kumi Yokoyama/横山 久美 (@yoko10_official) October 26, 2021
Sharing this moment is important as the visibility and representation of LGBTQI Asian Athletes is not very high. Currently Japan doesn’t have any anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQI people nor are transgender people able to legally change their gender unless they undergo surgery.
Happy Monday, here’s something to make you smile!
Congrats, @yoko10_official!! We’re so happy for you both pic.twitter.com/acXzpNB0wr
— Washington Spirit (@WashSpirit) October 26, 2021
We congratulate the happy couple and are looking forward to following their journey into the future.