Trans footballer makes history by signing with premier league women’s team
The Argentinian football club Villa San Carlos has signed its first ever transgender player for the top women’s league, Primera Division A.
As well as being the first for the club, Argentine striker Mara Gomez, 22, will also be the first transgender woman ever to play in an official Argentine FA tournament.
Gomez previously played for Toronto City and the amateur league side Malvinas, where she won two league titles and became the club’s top goalscorer.
A picture of her standing next to another of the team’s newest acquisitions, Ludmila Angeli, went viral as a piece of the country’s footballing history.
“Being able to be in professional football represents a historical struggle,” she told EN24. “Just as women’s football fought for professionalisation, we all fight for the right to achieve a football in which we can all participate.”
She revealed that at 15, her feelings of dysphoria nearly led her to suicide, but her love of football and the support from her team helped her overcome this and find acceptance.
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“When I was going through a moment of change with my identity and my sexuality I suffered a lot of discrimination, bullying and exclusion. There came a time when I did not find meaning in life and did not want to live anymore because I was afraid of my future,” she said.
“In the midst of pain, the team where I played supported me a lot: if a team didn’t want to play because [of me], they didn’t play. ‘Either Mara plays or we don’t play’, [they said].”
Throughout her sporting career Gomez has faced critics who believe that, as a transgender woman, she has an advantage over the cis female players – but she says this is never a factor.
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“The physical difference is not real,” she said. “There are a lot of players with much more strength and speed than me and they are not men. It has nothing to do with it.
“If we talk about physical difference and hormones, let’s go to the example of Messi. An extraordinary soccer player, who measures 1.60 meters. If Messi plays against men, why do they have to chase him [in groups of] four?”
Villa San Carlos are currently bottom of the league with only one point and are yet to win a game – but all that could change when Gomez and Angeli make their debut against league leaders Boca Juniors.