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.
She said “YES”!— Kumi Yokoyama/横山 久美 (@yoko10_official) October 26, 2021
Thank you for everyone!!! pic.twitter.com/BqVFebzGFG
Thank you so much ❤️ https://t.co/Qfeak7w0MP— Kumi Yokoyama/横山 久美 (@yoko10_official) October 26, 2021
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.
To Carl Nassib and Kumi Yokoyama – two prominent, inspiring athletes who came out this week: I’m so proud of your courage. Because of you, countless kids around the world are seeing themselves in a new light today.— President Biden (@POTUS) June 23, 2021
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.