Last week, a UK football team consisting entirely of trans-masc players made history. They celebrated Trans Day of Visibility by becoming the first trans-masc team to compete against cis men.
The team, TRUK United FC, was founded by the first openly trans football referee in the world, Lucy Clark. On Friday’s match, it was made up of trans players from a wide range of backgrounds and skill levels—all united by their love of football.
TRUK went head-to-head against Dulwich Hamlet FC Supporters Team in London to a cheering crowd of over 500 people. When team captain Arthur Webber first put out the call on social media to find players, he expected a low turnout. “I couldn’t have been more wrong,” Webber recalled on Trans Writes. “My inbox was flooded with dudes desperate to play a part, even if they got substituted after five minutes.”
The resulting team was “a group of lads from across the UK who had never met each other before the match. Men in all stages of their transitions. Dudes who had never kicked a ball before and semi-professionals at the top of their game. I didn’t know most of their names before they arrived at the stadium, but I’ll never forget any of them.”
In the days leading up to the match, Webber found his nerves mounting. But all that changed with the outpouring of support coming from the stands. “As I led the first ever all trans masc football team in Europe onto that football pitch to thunderous applause, all my worries melted away,” wrote Webber. “It didn’t matter what the score was; it didn’t matter if I left the field covered in mud and smelling like the Year 9 boys PE changing room. We made history here.”
That support carried on long after the team left the pitch. “I knew how much it meant to me, but I think I’d underestimated how much the game meant to the whole community,” Webber said. “Within minutes of tweeting about the match, I had dozens of responses from people crying, who had also assumed that there wasn’t a space for trans men in football. When I woke up the next morning, dozens had turned into hundreds.”
The match ended with an eight to one score in favor of Dulwich, but the point of bringing together such a diverse group of amateur and semi-pro players was not about bragging rights. “The score didn’t matter at the beginning and it didn’t matter at the end,” TRUK’s center-back Harry Nicholas told PinkNews. “This was not about winning or proving ourselves against a cis team.
“The real win was always that we walked out onto the pitch, played, we’re visible and we’ve reclaimed our place in football.”