In what is reportedly a world-first, a transgender football referee will take to the pitch today.
Lucy Clark, who has worked as a semi-professional referee across over 100 matches, says she has struggled with her gender identity for 30 years.
‘I want to inspire others to be who they are’
In interview with the Sunday Mirror, Lucy, 46, said: ‘I have kept this secret hidden away most of my life. Now is the time to be me.’
She furthermore added: ‘I can appreciate people will be a bit shocked when I run on to the pitch.
‘But I’m the same person. I will just look a bit different. It’ll be nice not to live in two different worlds and be me.’
Lucy, who is married with three children, also said: ‘I want to inspire others to be who they are.’
Elsewhere in the interview, the Surrey-based black cab driver also reveals her journey has left her suicidal in the past.
Lucy’s wife Avril was present at the interview, with the journalist reporting how they clutched each other’s hands throughout the chat.
‘Players I can deal with’
Admitting today’s football match will be ‘awkward’, Lucy said: ‘Players I can deal with. I can just give red or yellow cards to them. It’s the fans – that’s where the issues could come.’
Lucy’s match today will be in a woman’s league.
She has worked on 100 games in men’s leagues in the past. These include for the Combined Counties, the Isthmian and the National Under 19s.
‘I’m preparing myself for the derogatory comments,’ adds Lucy. ‘I don’t want to lose my control and I don’t want to be putting complaints into clubs about the behaviour of their fans.
‘I’m a bit concerned. If I’ve suddenly got 200 people shouting stuff about me I don’t know how I’ll react. But I am thick-skinned, you’ve got to be.’
‘The FA fully supports Lucy’
Responding, the Football Association said in a statement: ‘The FA fully supports Lucy and anyone else who wants to participate in football in their preferred gender.
‘Football is For All and in 2014 The FA announced a policy, as well as an information guide distributed to all clubs, to encourage trans people to participate in football.’