TOKYO (AP) — Japanese soccer player Kumi Yokoyama said they are transgender — a revelation praised in the U.S. where they play in the National Women's Soccer League but an identity not legally recognized in Japan.
The Washington Spirit forward said they felt more comfortable with their gender identity while living in the United States and that teammates and friends were supportive.
On a former teammates' YouTube channel, Yokoyama said: "I'm coming out now. In the future, I want to quit soccer and live as a man."
President Joe Biden praised Yokoyama and NFL player Carl Nassib for their courage and said kids were seeing themselves "in a new light" because of the two athletes' revelations.
“To Carl Nassib and Kumi Yokoyama – two prominent, inspiring athletes who came out this week: I’m so proud of your courage," President Biden said in a tweet. "Because of you, countless kids around the world are seeing themselves in a new light today."
Yokoyama's team also expressed their support and pride, saying in a tweet, "thank you for showing the world it's ok to embrace who you are."
The team added in another tweet that Yokoyama uses they/them pronouns.
According to the Associated Press, Yokoyama played at the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France for Japan. Then moved from Japanese club AC Nagano Parceiro to the Spirit.
Nassib, who plays for the Las Vegas Raiders, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay when he made the announcement in a social media post on Monday.