First all-trans masc side makes football history: ‘I hope trans kids see this and know there is a place for them in sport’

On Trans Day of Visibility, all-trans masc side TRUK United made football history against a cis men's team. ( Lucy Copsey)

An all-trans men and trans masculine football side played their inaugural match against a cis men’s team on Trans Day of Visibility – for the first time in European history.

On Friday (31 March), TRUK United FC took to the field under captain Arthur Webber against Dulwich Hamlet FC Supporters Team at the Champion Hill grounds in London. More than 500 supporters turned out to watch history being made. 

The team was solely made up of trans men and trans masculine people, and ended on a final score of 8:1 to Dulwich.

Harry Nicholas, author of A Trans Man Walks into a Gay Bar, who played centre back in Friday’s match, spoke exclusively to PinkNews about why this fixture was so vital for trans representation in sport.

He said: “I hope that trans kids see this and know there is a place for them in sport. That it is possible.

TRUK team member Harry Nicholas says: ‘There was such a range of talent, experiences and nationalities on the pitch.’ (Lucy Copsey)

“We had players travel from Leeds and Scotland to make the match. Many of the team had never met before. Some of them hadn’t played football since school, others were semi-pro.

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“There was such a range of talent, experiences and nationalities on the pitch, but the one thing that united us all was that we thought there was no place for us in football as trans men, and this event changed that.”

The team even boasted a famous face, as Emmerdale actor Ash Palmisciano – the first ever transgender actor to appear on the TV soap – drove down from Leeds to play. 

Commentator and journalist Nick Heath described the match as “a real privilege to watch” and said it included “the greatest free kick goal I’ve ever seen live”.

Harry Nicholas recounted the moment that TRUK scored for PinkNews, saying: “When Parker Dunn scored an epic goal, the 560 strong stadium erupted. 

“We ran towards each other and hugged. Our manager Lucy and the whole squad joined us on the pitch. I’ve never felt a sense of community and joy quite like it before – we were playing a sport we love and owning it.

“The crowd seemed to get a lot out of it too. For many of the people in attendance – football crowds are a challenge. There can be a lot of homophobia and transphobia. For many it was their first time watching a match. 

“There were amazing chants and it was such a high-spirited event. It was a mix of LGBTQ+ people, and allies, coming together to celebrate this historic evening, and show that everyone has a place in sport.”

TRUK played their historic fixture on Trans Day of Visibility. (Lucy Copsey)

TRUK was founded by Lucy Clark, the first openly trans football referee in the world, after she received messages from trans folks saying they wanted to get involved but didn’t feel there was a club available for them. 

In January 2021, TRUK United FC was formed, according to its website, with the aim of “connecting the community”, raising funds for the telephone support service TRUK Listens and “making football a more inclusive sport”. 

Friday’s match follows the TRUK women’s team playing their groundbreaking fixture in March 2022 against Dulwich Halmet Women’s team.

At a time when trans rights are being threatened by hateful misinformation and discriminatory legislation around the world, and on the same day that UK Athletics confirmed its ban on trans women participating in female sporting events, TRUK’s match is especially vital.

Harry Nicholas concludes: “The score didn’t matter at the beginning and it didn’t matter at the end. This was not about winning or proving ourselves against a cis team. 

“The real win was always that we walked out onto the pitch, played, we’re visible and we’ve reclaimed our place in football.”

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