WATCH: This inspiring coach came out as trans to his team
A Portland football coach has come out to his team in an inspiring speech to his team.
36-year-old Kaig Lightner is the coach and founder of the Portland Community Football Club, a welcoming team that aims to help underprivileged young people who cannot afford the high cost of other leagues.
The club also acts as a safe space for families and players from the LGBT community.
Lightner, who is transgender, had up until recently kept his gender identity a secret. However, he decided to share his trans status with the young athletes that he helps to coach.
The inspiring speech, which was filmed by another coach in the club, sees Lightner talk about his gender in an open and inspiring way.
“Some of you may or may not know this, but I am transgender,” he starts.
“What that means is that I was born a girl, and I grew up playing soccer as a girl. That’s not something I shared with players or people in the sports world very often because it’s not an easy thing.”
Lightner goes on to tell his team that he hopes by revealing his gender identity it will help them to understand how they can be more inclusive and respectful to others in the future.
He said: “It’s really important for me to tell you guys because this is how we build community. What I want you to know is that there are other people like me everywhere. You never know what’s going on with someone, and that’s why you’ve got to be kind, respectful and nice as often as you can.
The coach added that he was “nervous” about coming out to the kids, and that it was fine for them to be confused about it.
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“This is a hard thing, I was really nervous about telling you guys this, but I can’t keep going on about this without you all knowing everything about me. If you are confused that’s totally fine, if you’re kind of weirded out that’s fine. Just let it be what it is to you. This is about us being all-inclusive and accepting everyone,” he added.
Lightner told BuzzFeed News that he felt lucky because his “gender presentation fits society’s stereotypes of looking like a man”, so it was not necessary for him to come out.
“I could easily never say anything,” he said. “But I think it’s part of my responsibility as a privileged white person to share my identity.”
The coach added that he players “weren’t getting to really know” who he was, and he felt that it was “inauthentic” for him to expect the kids to be “authentic, vulnerable, real and work hard” if he wasn’t reciprocating that.
“I recognise that there are so many trans and gender non-conforming people who don’t have the resources, support, or ability to do what I did,” he said. “That’s why I am so open about it in every other aspect of my life. Coming out to the club was the final frontier.”
Lightner had just one last message for other young trans people: “To trans youth, I hope that I am just a small light at what I know can be a very dark tunnel, we’ve come a long way but there is still so much more work to do.”