clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Japanese trans pro soccer player Kumi Yokoyama just got engaged

Yokoyama publicly came out as transgender in June, becoming one of the most visible LGBTQ athletes in their native country.

Kumi Yokoyama has received widespread support in the NWHL since coming out as trans.
Twitter

When pro soccer player Kumi Yokoyama publicly came out as transgender, they said they weren’t necessarily enthusiastic about the decision, but made the choice so they could live an open life going forward.

Last week, they took a big step towards achieving that. Yokoyama, who plays for the NWSL’s Washington Spirit, proposed to their girlfriend at their home stadium, Audi Field.

And she said yes!

The Spirit and NWSL community at large reacted with their well-wishes.

Yokoyama, 27, came out as transgender in June. They made their announcement in a video posted to YouTube. “I’m coming out now,” they said. “In the future, I want to quit soccer and live as a man.”

Yokoyama is one of two out transgender players in the NWSL. The other is Quinn, who also plays for the Spirit, and became the first trans Olympic medalist when Canada’s women’s soccer team captured gold.

President Joe Biden praised Yokoyama following their announcement, saying he was proud of the soccer star’s courage.

Unfortunately, LGBTQ people don’t receive that kind of recognition in Yokoyama’s native Japan. As we covered during the Olympics, Japan doesn’t have anti-discrimination protection for LGBTQ citizens. Transgender people aren’t recognized on official documents unless they have their reproductive organs removed — an utterly inhumane practice.

But as we know, visibility is one of the strongest counters to bigotry. Yokoyama says they hope their coming out helps to erase the stigma surrounding trans people in their native country.

“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 told NPR.

A public engagement goes a long way towards accomplishing that. Yokoyama is about to enter one of society’s most sacred institutions, and they’re doing it as their true self.

That’s beautiful.