A top soccer referee came out publicly as the Israeli Premier League’s first ever transgender referee at a Tuesday press conference.
Sagi Berman told reporters that she now identifies as a woman, and has changed her name to Sapir.
“I always saw myself as a woman, from a very young age. At first I did not know how to name it, I did not know what to call it, but there was always an attraction to the female side [of things], and there was an envy of sorts of other women, and I lived with it — I lived with it… [while projecting] a very male persona,” Berman, 26, explained.
“As a man I was successful. Whether in the referees association or in school or even with girls. To the family, I was a man as well, but when I was alone, I was a woman,” she continued. “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 went on to explain why she eventually chose to come out.
“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,” she said.
Berman said that she’s already received robust support from her family, the local referees’ union as well as Israeli and international soccer officials.
— ISRAEL FA (@ISRAELFA) April 27, 2021
“We have a new Referee, Sapir Berman. The first referee to be transgender, We are so proud” the Israel Football Association tweeted on Tuesday.