Washington Spirit forward and Japan women’s international player Kumi Yokoyama has come out as a transgender man.
The player made the announcement through a video interview posted to the YouTube channel of former teammate Yuki Nagasato.
“I’ve dated several women over the years but I had to stay closeted in Japan,” the NWSL player said during the interview. “In Japan I’d always be asked if I had a boyfriend, but here [in the United States] I’m asked if I have a boyfriend or girlfriend.
“When my girlfriend said there was no reason for me to stay closeted, it really hit me. Coming out wasn’t something I was enthusiastic about, but if I think about my life going forward, it would be harder to live closeted, so I found the courage to come out.”
During the interview, Yokoyama shared that they use the preferred pronouns they/their. The Washington Spirit player also shared that living in the United States and Germany prompted them to feel more comfortable coming out and sharing their identity with the world.
“Lately the word ‘LGBTQ’ has become more commonly known in Japan and been covered by the media, but people in my position aren’t able to raise our voices and talk about it,” Yokoyama said.
“Japan may be a small country, but if all of us speak up together then we can help raise awareness.”
The 27-year old announced they had undergone ‘top surgery’ at the age of 20 years old to remove breast tissue, and will continue to pursue additional gender-affirming surgeries when they officially retire from professional football.
The Washington Spirit responded to the tweet Yokoyama shared about the announcement, adding: “We support and are so proud of you Kumi, Thank you for showing the world it’s ok to embrace who you are!”
Yokoyama first joined the Spirit in 2019, aiding the team in the national women’s soccer league.