Portland youth soccer coach comes out to players as transgender

Portland, Ore. – An Oregon soccer coach is teaching his players a little something about courage.

He used one of his practices to come out as transgender to his players, and the emotional story was caught on camera.

In the sports world, rules define the game. And in a way, they can also define the players.

Soccer coach Kaig Lightner said, “I loved sports. It’s what gave me so much confidence and self-esteem and purpose.”

Lessons Coach Lightner wants to instill in his young, impressionable players. But not everyone can stay in a box.

He wanted his players to know purpose isn’t meant to be kept a secret.

He said, “It feels like my family and I didn’t want to hide anymore.”

So during practice one afternoon, he broke those rules.

He told his players, “Some of you may or may not know this, but I am transgender.”

The video garnered more than 50,000 views in less than a week. And his players don’t seem fazed.

Lightner said, “There’s been comments from the kids like ‘this is really cool,’ ‘glad you did that,’ ‘let’s go play soccer.’” Compassion he says lacked while growing up.

He was born a girl, but he says he never felt or stereotypically played like one.

“I was bullied and picked on a lot as a kid. I was treated terribly as a kid because I just looked different, I didn’t look like all the other girls.”

He says the anxiety of conforming to gender norms put him over the edge.

So in his late 20s, he decided to transition.

He said, “I’m such a happier, more relaxed, confident, less anxious person, I feel like I can be more successful in the world because I’m just able to live.”

Now he can live life authentically both on and off the practice fields.

“At the end of the day, they just see me as their coach, and that’s great,” said Lightner

He said since the video went viral he’s been gaining overwhelming support from both parents and strangers.

© 2023 KOBI-TV NBC5. All rights reserved unless otherwise stated.

Skip to content