Lucy Clark Interview: Part 2
In support of Transgender Day of Remembrance we have a chat with Lucy Clark, who is the first openly transgender referee after coming out earlier this year.
In Part 2 of this interview, Lucy talks about making football more inclusive.
What more should the FA, CFA's, and pro clubs be doing to get to the point where inclusion is embedded across all levels of the game?
They can only support someone if they know that person is there and needs support. For me, I didn’t’ really need a lot of support- I’ve got my support from this building (home) which has been great and has got me to where I am now. There’s other people who may be a bit more vulnerable. What we need are more people who are brave enough. And I can understand- it is hard!
Football should be for everyone- it shouldn’t matter what race, religion, gender or your sexual identity is, when you’re on the football pitch, none of that is relevant! What’s relevant is the colour shirt you’re wearing- are you wearing red, green, or possibly black?
We haven’t got any gay footballers who have come out. Ryan Atkin has led the way with the refereeing which has been brilliant. Once you get somebody high profile to come out and say I’m in the LGBT community, others will follow and hopefully in 30 years’ time, it won’t be an issue. It won’t matter what or who you are, you’re there to play football- you’re wearing the green kit today and the number 7 and away you go.
There are obviously some transgender women that play football- they have to jump through hoops to play football so there’s something they (The FA) could make a bit easier. I’m aware that there could be physical differences for somebody who has gone through male puberty, with all the hormones and levels- it makes a big different to your body. But I think there has to be a point where we need to make it easier and more accessible for transgender people to be able to play competitive sports at whatever level.
Nobody’s going to change gender so they can excel at a sport; it’s just not going to happen. Hopefully it will be a lot smoother for transgender people to play sport; it’s hard because of red tape.
How helpful is it, creating the right environment for people to come out in?
Football is hard, at the higher level you get the bigger crowds. You go to games where there are 100 people, you’ll always get that 1 person who’s had a drink and wants to show off in front of his friends. When there’s more (LGBT people) out there then it should be easier. Let’s get the trailblazers out there to do it. It’s what we need, we need people out there to go and do it. Nothing in life is going to be easy, but hopefully people just go out there and do it.
The world has changed in the last 30 years and it’s getting better all the time. It just needs to be progressive. We are all just who we are.
Do you think we’re going to see a transgender referee in the premier league?
If they’re good enough, why not! There might not be one that’s currently active at a higher level- I might be wrong and if I am, great, do it- let’s get out on a game together, it would be great! You just don’t know. There may hopefully be one who is going to come through, that could happen.
Stories like my own, if that can encourage someone else to do it in any walk of life, then great. We all like sport, and you shouldn’t have to stop it because you’re transgender which was something I was going to do, thankfully I haven’t.
What changed your mind about quitting refereeing?
I love football. I’ve lived my life immersed in football- either as a player, manager, supporter and now as a referee. I’d have just missed it so much. I could have gone to watch it, but it would have torn me up knowing that I’m not getting up and doing a game on Saturday afternoon. You can’t beat it.
You only get one life- why should I give up something that I love doing because of the fact that I’m transgender? All the anti-trans people win then!
Do you think campaigns like the Stonewall Rainbow Laces campaign have much of an impact on making sport more inclusive of the LGBT+ community?
I think because everyone recognises the rainbow laces, the more prominent it becomes, and if they keep doing it, and the more people wear them, I think the campaigns are good. It’s unfortunate they have to be there- it’s sad they have to be, but they do at the moment. Organisations are doing a good job of letting people know that sport is for all, football is for all.
Anything else you’d like to add?
My close friends in refereeing have been amazing. The FA and the support around has been there if needed. Stonewall have been great as well. I’ve been speaking to them if I need any support but also if I can help them as well and support anyone further down the line.
If you’re a member of the LGBT+ community, don’t give up football because of what or who you are, there is support there if you need it, football is more accepting now. At all levels, people should be able to play and participate in sport. The barriers are coming down, which is the main thing.Find out more about Transgender Day of Remembrance here.