According to a report from Japan Times, US-based footballer Kumi Yokoyama has come out as a transgender man.
Yokoyama, who currently plays as the forward for the Washington Spirit, opened up about their journey with fellow Japanese player Yuki Nagasato on YouTube.
“In the future, I want to quit soccer and live as a man,” the 27-year-old revealed.
“I’ve dated several women over the years but I had to stay closeted in Japan. 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 a 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.”
Yokoyama also revealed that they started to undergo gender-affirming procedures.
“I never saw myself as a girl, so I hated puberty,” they explained. “When I reached adulthood, I thought I’d maybe play soccer for another one or two years, so after that season ended I had my breasts removed.
“Normally you can’t have it unless you’re receiving hormones, but my doctor understood my situation. I would have been caught by doping sets if I was on hormones, so I just had the top surgery.”
Since coming out the former Nadeshiko striker has received nothing but support from their teammates, and other Japanese athletes.
“When I first told my teammates I was even told it was uncool to hide,” they said. “I had to explain to them what Japanese culture is like and why I felt the need to hide.”
Later on in the interview, they elaborated on how the LGBTQ+ community is viewed in Japan and the type of impact they hope to make.
“More people in Japan are becoming familiar with the acronym LGBTQ and it’s seen more [in the media], but I thought if influential people like myself don’t come out and use their voices [awareness and acceptance] won’t grow,” they said.
Yokoyama is now the highest-profile athlete in Japan to come out as part of the LGBTQ+ community.
Watch their full coming out video below.