Soccer coach comes out to team as transgender, video goes viral
(CBS) Kaig Lightner is the founder and director of coaching at the Portland Community Football Club in Portland, Oregon. Over the past five years, he and the club have been committed to making low-cost, high-quality athletics available to the area’s underprivileged youth. They provide equipment and coaching to give every kid in the community a chance to be active.
Lightner can often be seen driving players to and from practice or games, and is active on the club’s social media accounts. He also happens to be a transgender man, a fact about himself he hadn’t shared with many of the kids at the club — that is, until now. After one recent practice, he called his team into a huddle and came out to them in an inspiring speech that has since gone viral.
“Some of you may or may not know this, but I am transgender,” Lightner says in a 7-minute video posted to YouTube on May 3. Throughout the video, which has over 52,000 views, the players on screen listen respectfully, and one can be seen walking up to Lightner to give him a hug.
He explains to them in kid-friendly terms what that means and why he has chosen to tell them.
“I’m a boy. I just look a little different on the insides than some other boys do. I think of myself as a boy,” he says, adding, “I was born a girl.”
“I grew up playing soccer as a girl,” Lightner says. “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,” he says.
“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,” Lightner continues. “I wasn’t good enough. I wasn’t strong enough, or I was too strong, I acted too much like a boy.”
He wanted the kids to know the struggles that he has overcome, and the importance of living as your authentic self.
“I may have this white skin and I may look like I just cruised through life with a lot of privilege — which I have had — but I have one thing that a lot of people don’t know about me … we should all be who we are, exactly who we want to be, and not hide who we are.”
Putting it all in perspective, he added, “I’m still the same person, but now you just know a little something else about me.”
Lightner admitted that he was nervous to confide in his team, but when he opened up the floor for questions, he got a surprising response. Instead of asking about his gender, the first question was a typical kid’s inquiry: “How old are you?”
“That’s the important thing? That’s what you guys want to know?” he laughed. For the record: “I’m almost 37.”