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Football for Everyone: Football v Transphobia

The Football v Transphobia week of action takes place between the 24th – 31st March 2021. It is the third year of the campaign, its purpose is to highlight the positive contribution trans people are making to football and show how everyone involved in the game can be active allies to trans and non-binary people. 

One of our participants has told their story about how Argyle Community Trust has supported and helped them, “I’ve been lucky enough to be able to participate in Ability Counts sessions with little judgement. When I had first started at the football sessions, I was only coming along to watch a friend play. One of the coaches kept asking me if I wanted to play and my answer was always no. He never stopped asking each week and I cannot be more thankful for that persistence. When I did show up to play, I had explained to him my gender identity and he was fully supportive of that with no problems at all. To this day, he and all the other coaches are the most genuine and kind people I know.”

They went on to say, “The support I’ve received from Argyle Community Trust has been more than brilliant. The staff that I have been lucky to meet over the few years have all been extremely approachable. Through lockdown especially, they’ve all been good with my mental health and checking in on me. I’ve been very much able to be open about myself being transgender, which is why I am so happy that I have the opportunity to share my experiences within football. Without the support of some of the coaches and friends I have made at the sessions, I don’t think I would have necessarily been as motivated for my future as I am right now. I’ve now also started my University journey in the time that I’ve been part of the Ability Counts sessions and I don’t think I would have done it without the support I have received from staff at the Trust.

It’s no secret that there are many barriers people in the LGBTQ+ community face, let alone transgender people. These barriers will always be there, but what counts is how the barriers are managed. I do think sometimes, being misgendered can be due to my voice not exactly being very masculine. I always try to make myself pass as male, but it does tend to be a tough thing to do when my voice is extremely high pitched. This has had a negative impact on my mental health and self-esteem. As well as being transgender, I am also gay, which has caused even more barriers. When some people find out, they get very confused and it can be draining trying to explain that sexuality is separate from gender identity. 

Ever since I decided to take part, I feel as if football has enabled me to come out of my shell. I’ve managed to gain confidence that I never knew I had. When I’m on the pitch, it’s as if all the barriers that I face are nonexistent. I feel as if over time, my confidence levels have risen to levels I haven’t been able to get to before. I’m able to do things that I never thought I could do and that’s almost certainly down to being able to play a sport that I love to play. As a whole, none of the barriers even matter when I’m playing football. 

Argyle Community Trust has done brilliantly with supporting me and my journey. I can see myself staying part of the amazing things they do for a very long time, because they’ve been nothing but welcoming every time I go to sessions. They treat me like any other player that comes along to enjoy themselves”.

Mickey, lead coach at Ability Counts, explains “it has been a pleasure to support them from their transition to first joining the Ability Counts team, to now being a leader in that team, they continue to show strength and determination to overcome any obstacles that come their way. The way they have played a part in changing people’s mindset around LGBTQ’s he is totally accepted and respected in our Ability Counts teams and leagues’ ‘.

Abby, Sports and Health Community Apprentice said “it’s been a pleasure working with this participant. Their confidence has grown so much, they have hosted and presented quiz rounds during our lockdown online engagement sessions, I’m really proud of them for this. I hope to continue to support them in any way I can”

Argyle Community Trust offers a range of  activities and sessions that are inclusive, engaging and help people of all ages to achieve their full potential. There is something for everyone. Find out more about Ability Counts, here

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