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Footballer Alba Palacios made history and headlines in 2018 when she became the Spanish football federation’s first transgender player. Now, nearly four years later, the athlete has opened up about her journey so far—including her regret over staying in the closet so long, but also her gratitude that she came out at all.

In her recent ESPN Deportes interview, Palacios gave an update on her personal life, saying that everything “turned out well” with her friends, teammates, and fans.

Related: This hunky trans male swimmer is blowing conservative lies about athletes out of the water

It was a different story with her family, though—especially her parents, for whom “acceptance was hard,” as she said. “In the end, it’s something they don’t understand when you’ve been with your son for 31 years, in this case, and he tells you this. I have always liked girls, cars, football. It’s something very complicated for parents to take on. … My mom struggled because I was the only son at home. It’s complicated.”

Now, happily, Palacios are her mother are “super good,” the footballer says. “She comes to see me play and is super proud of me. It’s great.”

 

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Palacios also has a good relationship with the girlfriend she had when she came out. “I made the transition with her,” the former Las Rozas Femenino player says. “We’re still together and in a good spot, to be honest. Everything is great.”

“What’s important is taking that step, continue to enjoy each moment, and being happy as you are.”

Palacios, who now plays for Torrelodones CF, weighed in about the debate on trans athletes—saying, for starters, that it’s really a debate over trans women playing sports “because, with guys, I don’t think there is going to be a problem.”

Related: 5 hunky sports figures who are #FlippingExhausted over anti-trans sports bans

“Every trans person is a world unto themselves,” she said. “In my case, for example, maybe you notice that since I’m one of 11 players—even if you put in a guy—you could still lose. So it’s very complicated. I don’t think trans people should be barred from competing. … We have to keep advancing, studying more cases. Never, ever should a trans person be barred from competing in sport.”

 

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Though she “never had a problem with any of the guys,” Palacios enjoys being with the women of the Torrelodones club. “It’s like feeling you’re at home, where you fit in,” she said. “It’s a great feeling.”

Palacios did say in the interview that she “would have liked to transition much earlier,” acknowledging that fear slowed her journey down. “But I think every person transitions when they can,” she observed. “In my time, it was complicated; there wasn’t as much visibility as there is now, and I was really, really scared. … I think I should’ve taken that step earlier. I would have liked to have enjoyed my youth more as Alba. I would have liked that. But what’s important is taking that step, continue to enjoy each moment, and being happy as you are.”

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