Kaig Lightner is the founder and director of the Portland (Oreg.) Community Football Club, a group that serves the city’s poor and underprivileged youth with the gift of soccer.
Lightner, 36, also happens to be transgender. Until last week, he had not shared this aspect of his life with his team.
In the video below that was posted by a fellow coach, you see Lightner call a huddle after practice and tell his players about a coaching trip he took to Washington, D.C.
“We ask a lot of you guys to show up and be yourselves and be who you are and get to be better players and I haven’t totally shared something with you about myself that’s sort of important — that some of you may or may not know,” he said in the video, via The Oregonian.
He went on to say, “Some of you may or may not know this, but I am transgender.” He added that this was something he has kept close to the chest for a long time because of how sports have traditionally dealt with issues of gender.
As of Thursday afternoon, the video titled “Authenticity” had over 81,000 views on YouTube.
“We have a lot of rules in sports about how boys play and how girls play and that’s not really fair,” he said to his team. “I got told a lot of things about being a soccer player as a girl — that I couldn’t do this, I couldn’t do that. I wasn’t good enough. I wasn’t strong enough, or I was too strong — I acted too much like a boy.”
Lightner told Buzzfeed News that he’s been involved in youth sports since he was a teenager. He stepped down from a coaching position at 26 to begin his transition. He told the outlet as well as his players that he felt a responsibility to come out in order to practice what he preached in his work.
“I started to realize that the players I see every day — whom I love like my own family — weren’t getting to really know who I am and yet I expected them to show up to practice and be authentic, vulnerable, real, and work hard for me and the other coaches,” Lightner told Buzzfeed. “That felt inauthentic.”
Kudos to Lightner, who told his story and hopes that he can be an inspiration to other trans youth.
“To trans youth, I hope that I am just a small light at what I know can be a very dark tunnel,” Lightner told BuzzFeed. “We’ve come a long way but there is still so much more work to do.”
(h/t The Oregonian)