It starts out like any typical youth soccer huddle. Coach Kaig Lightner encourages everyone to be more engaged, to keep showing up to practice. But what the kids don’t know is that their coach is about to do something awfully brave — come out as transgender.
Lightner, who is founder and director of coaching for the Portland Community Football Club, tells the group about a recent trip he took to D.C. to work on making soccer more affordable and accessible.
It was there he made the decision to take the bold step when he returned.
“One of the things that I realized while I was there,” he tells them, “is that 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 with you something about myself that’s kind of important, that some of you may or may not know.”
“It’s an important thing for me to share with you, because we all should be who we are, we all should be exactly who we want to be, and not hide who we are.”
“Some of you may or may not know this, but I am transgender,” Lightner continues. “What that means is that I was born a girl, and that I grew up playing soccer as a girl. And that’s not something I share with players or people in the sports world very often because it’s not an easy thing. We have a lot of rules in sports about how boys play and how girls play. And that’s not really fair.”
“This is how we build community. We have to be honest with each other, we’ve got to be open with each other, we’ve got to love each other no matter what.”
He finishes up: “If you are confused, that’s okay. If you are kind of weirded out, that’s okay. Deal with it. It’s cool. If you have questions, come talk to me. If it doesn’t matter to you, cool.”
Lightner then opens the floor to questions, of which there are many, and all respectful. It’s a pretty great sight to behold.