‘Inspirational’ Israeli football referee praised for coming out as transgender

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‘Inspirational’ Israeli football referee praised for coming out as transgender

Sapir Berman, an official with Israel's top football league, revealed on Tuesday she is transgender, amid an outpouring of support from the football world.

Israeli Premier League football referee Sapir Berman came out as trans on Tuesday (Image: Israel FA  / Twitter)
Israeli Premier League football referee Sapir Berman came out as trans on Tuesday (Image: Israel FA / Twitter)

An Israeli football referee has come out as transgender, making her the first trans referee in the country’s top league.

Sapir Berman, 26, revealed the news on Tuesday at a press conference at the headquarters of the Israel Football Association.

The Times of Israel reports that Berman told the press conference: “In the end, I decided to come out, to show [the world] who I am. 

“First for myself, for my own wellbeing, but also for my loved ones, so they wouldn’t see me suffering.”

The news has been welcomed by Israel’s FA, which said: “We have a new Referee, Sapir Berman. The first Referee to be transgender! We are so proud.”

UEFA, the governing body of football in Europe, also praised Berman, adding: “An inspirational story that highlights football’s spirit of inclusiveness. Well done Sapir Berman, we’re with you!”

Berman told reporters that she had kept her gender identity under wraps for a long time over fears “society would not accept me.”

“To the family, I was a man as well, but when I was alone, I was a woman,” she said. 

“I divided these worlds because I understood that society would not accept me, would not be by my side. So I continued living like this for 26 years.”

Berman added that the reaction from fans and players had been overwhelmingly positive.

On Sunday, the top ref will oversee a playoff match between heavyweight teams Hapoel Haifa and Beitar Jerusalem.

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