Transgender footballer marks first in top Argentina women's league

"Today I started and I can believe that things are happening, that they are succeeding," said Gomez, despite her team Villa San Carlos's loss 7-1 against Lanus, in the second day of first division A. "I'm happy to be able to play in the women's league."

Argentine transgender footballer Mara Gomez of Villa San Carlos controls the ball during an Argentina first division female football match against Lanus at Genacio Salice stadium in Berisso, Buenos Aires, Argentina on December 7, 2020. Gomez is the first transgender footballer to play in the first division of the Argentine female league. Picture: AFP

BUENOS AIRES - Footballer Mara Gomez announced on Monday she intends to continue progressing "without any kind of ceiling", after becoming the first transgender player to have taken the field in a match in Argentina's women's championship.

"Today I started and I can believe that things are happening, that they are succeeding," said Gomez, despite her team Villa San Carlos's loss 7-1 against Lanus, in the second day of first division A. "I'm happy to be able to play in the women's league."

"It's not an individual conquest, it's a social, collective question," the 23-year-old told AFP.

Gomez was authorized on November 28 to play in the women's first division, after a long battle in a country where the life expectancy for transgender women is between 32 and 40 years old.

The football player said she signed an agreement with the Argentine Football Association, which requires her to undergo hormone treatment.

She must also submit to testosterone measurements at the start and in the middle of the championship, to remove any suspicion of an athletic disparity with the other players.

Argentina led Latin America by passing a gender identity law in 2012, which allowed Gomez to officially change her gender on her national identity card when she turned 18.

On Monday, Gomez was given a Lanus jersey with her number, 10 (the same as Argentine football icon Diego Maradona), and her first and last name, as a gift.

"It was moving, I wasn't expecting it," she said.

Gomez started playing football at age 15, encouraged by neighbours. In the women's league in La Plata, Gomez distinguished herself as a leading goal scorer in the past two seasons.

That prompted Villa San Carlos, in last place in the women's professional league, to seek to recruit her.

During a press conference on Friday, Gomez already anticipated a "historic moment at the global level."

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