HALIFAX, Canada — A Canadian girl who identifies as a boy has become the first “transgender” player allowed on her school’s football team.
Kennedy Cooley, 17, transferred to Halifax West High School after students at her previous school made her feel “unaccepted” for identifying as a boy. She had heard that Halifax West would be more accepting, but was still apprehensive.
“I’d heard that a lot of the guys are like family, they really get along together, they all know each other, and they’re really close friends,” Cooley told CTV News. “I was just really nervous about going in there and maybe, somebody wasn’t okay with me being transgender.”
At Halifax West, she was permitted to join the boy’s football team.
“You feel like you’re a brother; you don’t feel like you’re a player,” the teen said. “They’re just so open and they accept you for who you are.”
“That’s what he wants to be—included—and he wants to be one of the other guys,” Cooley’s mother, Pam Reinders-Cooley, said.
Her father is likewise supportive.
“He’s never been afraid of challenge, and we’ve always supported him as much as we could,” Robert Cooley told ABC News. “It isn’t always easy, but at the end of the day, your goal as a parent is to make sure your child is a productive citizen in society, and when we look at him, we see that he is a good kid.”
Halifax Head Coach David Kelly said that Cooley hasn’t played on a football team before and so she is still learning.
“He’s very new to the sport, so I think he’s still in the process of learning the game,” Kelly explained.
But Assistant Head Coach Nick MacLeod told the Chronicle Herald that Cooley will be expected to perform equally with the male players.
“When Kennedy came here, we asked him the same thing that we ask everybody else: that you put the team first and work hard and give 100 percent effort,” he said.
As previously reported, earlier this year, questions were raised about whether or not it would be fair for a male student at an Alaskan high school who identifies as female to be permitted to compete against girls on the school’s track team.
“Allowing students to play on teams of the opposite sex disproportionately impacts female students, who will lose spots on a track, soccer and volleyball teams to male students who identify as female,” Alaska Family Action Executive Director Jim Minnery told reporters regarding Nattaphon “Ice” Wangyot, 18.
In Texas, school superintendents voted in March to require student athletes to provide proof of their gender by submitting a copy of their birth certificate to ensure that that boys do not play on girls’ teams and girls do not play on boys’ teams.
“Member schools may not permit boys to try out for or participate under the jr. high school or high school athletic plans designated for girls’ teams,” the policy reads, noting the same for girls. “Member schools that offer cross country, golf, swimming, tennis, track and field and/or wrestling individual athletic plans may not permit mixed plans for boys and girls.”