The first trans woman to work for the Premier League as a photographer has said she left her job thinking she would “never work in football again”.
Sophie Cook, 48, said she was unsure how her colleagues would react to her transition.
She said she was actually amazed how her announcement was received by colleagues at AFC Bournemouth.
“The end of last season we were promoted to the Premier League and I remember standing on the pitch when we became Football League Champions,” she told The Anton Savage Show on Today FM.
“It was the most amazing day in the history of my football club but I was terrified because I knew that during the summer I was going to tell them I was transgender and I thought I’d never work in football again.
“The fear was real,” she said.
Going on, she said she was scared to tell her colleagues of 15-years that she was to transition.
“I got in touch with my boss and I told him on the phone and he arranged for me to go in for a meeting with the chairman and the manager of the team Eddie Howes and I sat down in one of the boxes with them as just me – in pencil skirt and heels, looking fabulous –and it was the first time they ever met the real me.
“I went in for a training session with the players and Eddie introduced me as Sophie.
“I had built the whole thing up so much in my head and I don’t know what I was expecting but when they were told all the guys started clapping and the captain said ‘Let’s go and train’. Some of the guys came up afterwards and showed their support. They have been amazing,” she continued.
Cook started her transition in 2000, but decided not to go through with the process initially.
She decided not to after her son was born disabled.
“I killed Sophie for fifteen years and buried her. This time last year I was in Leeds for a football match and something just switched in my head. I suddenly realised why I hated myself so much.”
She also spoke of having an eating disorder and battling depression.
“Throughout the years I put on about six stone in weight because I was self-harming with food.
“I suffered from very dark depression and I had suicidal feelings very often.
“Although a TravelLodge in Leeds isn’t the best place for an epiphany, all of a sudden I came to the realisation. I looked into the mirror and realised that that’s why I had been so cruel to myself all these years. I had to start loving myself and paying attention to myself and who I really was.”
The parent to two children, Cook said she and her wife decided to split up but remained friends after she came out as trans. She said she has also now come out to her children.
“We spoke about it and the love and support I’ve gotten from them and my now ex wife has been amazing.
“We still love each other dearly. I still spent Christmas Day with them and they’re my best friends,” she said.