A 23-year-old transgender woman named Mara Gomez has started her first game playing professional soccer in Argentina’s women’s division.
Gomez joining the team is a historic event as she is the first transgender woman to play professionally in the country
This week, she played her first game for Villa San Carlos, and despite losing the game 7-1, Gomez was thrilled to be a part of the team.
She says that she hopes that her involvement with the sport will open up doors for others in her situation.
In an interview with ESPN, she said that her teammates have been very supportive.
“When I started out, football was a therapy for me and I couldn’t think it was possible to dream or consider playing in the top division. A few years back this was unthinkable to talk about or debate but now we are opening new roads. This is a huge achievement. I’m totally grateful to my club, to my teammates and coaching staff for opening the doors for me and for showing me respect from the beginning,” Gomez said.
“I’m proud to represent a community but also a part of society and to know that I have become a reference for a lot of people,” she added.
Gomez signed a contract with the team earlier this year, but has not been able to play until this week because many sports have been put on hold this year.
Gomez has plenty of experience playing soccer, and has been practicing for a very long time.
Before signing for Villa San Carlos, Gomez had been playing in the lower Platense Football League for Las Malvinas.
She was not allowed to join the professional AFA league until the levels of testosterone in her blood were low enough to meet the league’s standards.
After the match, the opposing team presented her with a commemorative shirt, and congratulated her in a tweet, saying “We celebrate and accompany this enormous step on the road to expanding rights.”
In a post on Instagram, Gomez said that soccer saved her life. She said that she struggled with her mental health due to the “discrimination and exclusion” that she experienced in the outside world.
In the post, she described how hard she had to work to get where she is today.
“It wasn’t magic, it wasn’t a gift, it wasn’t easy. There was a life of fighting, suffering, and sadness. There was a life on the edge of death and a broken heart. Many obstacles had to be overcome to revert the past….This has only just begun. Today I breathe, today my soul returns to my body,” she said.
Gomez is not alone either, there are many other transgender athletes all over the world who are beginning to enter professional leagues under the gender that they identify as.
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