As Football v Transphobia week comes to a close, we sat down with Naomi Reid to discuss her experiences as a trans woman in football.
Naomi plays for Charlton Invicta in the London Unity League.
What has your experience been playing at Charlton Invicta?
Right from the start it’s always been welcoming! Naturally, going into a new environment as a trans person is scary, particularly a footballing environment but the whole team has been fantastic.
There is a real family feel to the club, it’s very much a ‘one of our own’ feeling which really helped empower me, reduce any anxiety and play my best football.
How important it is to have allies within LGBTQ+ football?
This is so important! As Invicta is an LGBTQ+ & Allies team I was expecting ‘banter’ also read inappropriate jokes about me being trans when I first joined but it just wasn’t like that. I love the fact that we’re not just in an LGBTQ+ bubble; the allies in the team have been incredible in creating a safe and welcoming environment and on the flip side they are always keen to learn more. There are people on the team that you wouldn’t stereotypically expect to care or you might even suspect they would hold negative views about LGBTQ+ people but it’s really important to not judge people as we don’t want to be judged. Having a genuine conversation with someone is the best way to help stop discrimination.
For me, it’s really important to meet people where they are at – I might be the first trans person they have ever met so their knowledge of things like pronouns, dead-naming, or just what’s appropriate to discuss is going to be different from members of the LGBTQ+ community, but when there’s no judgement, a willingness to learn about things that are outside of their world, and respect for you as a person, that’s how we will break down the barriers society and football have put up.
Do you see yourself as a role model for other transgender players? What is the importance of having visible role models?
I haven’t really thought about myself being a role model; I don’t think it’s a label you give to yourself so I’ll let others decide that 😊.
Visibility and representation is so important though, as the saying goes: You can’t be what you can’t see and it’s so true. There are a lot of barriers for trans players as the game, and most sports, are very binary. Because of this, sport is something most trans people stay away from. Think about the joy you get from playing football, the camaraderie from being part of a team, the buzz from scoring, making a challenge, or playing a great pass and trans people feel that they can’t have that, that there is no place in football for them– that’s awful! For me not playing was an impossibility, I love football so much and if seeing me play and be involved in the game as a trans woman shows any other trans people that they can be involved in football too then I am happy.
I am a huge Leeds United fan and our mottos are ‘Marching on Together’ and ‘All Leeds Aren’t We’ and particularly under Marcelo Bielsa that collective emphasis is so important; it’s something I personally value and I think is the best way to achieve equality for everyone. We are all better together.
From your experiences, what piece of advice would you give your younger self?
Be yourself! Society tries to dictate who you are and what you can achieve based on this, anyone who doesn’t fit into a neat little box is told that there’s something inherently wrong with them, that they’re broken: that is not true.
I would also tell myself things will be scary but everyone deserves to be content and happy so put yourself out there... A relative gave me a picture when I came out as trans which I have up and is something I try to live by; it says: Courage is not the absence of fear, but the acquired ability to move beyond fear.
For more information on Football v Transphobia Week of Action, please click HERE.