AFC Wimbledon is supporting Transgender Day of Visibility and as part of this we today publish a blog by Dons supporter Shea Coffey.
The annual day of awareness celebrates transgender people, the courage it takes to live openly and authentically, while raising awareness of the discrimination transgender people continue to face today. Transgender, or trans, is an umberella-term used to describe those whose gender identity is different from the sex recorded at birth.
At the end of last year, the Diversity and Inclusion Working Group, working alongside Anne-Marie Godfrey, launched Dons 4 Diversity, a supporter run group for the LGBTQ+ community and Wimbledon fans, their friends and potential new Dons in the area! If you would like more information on Dons 4 Diversity please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org .
Below is the blog written by one of our transgender fans.
I am a Fan. I am an owner. I am you. I am transgender. I’m Shea Coffey.
I was born in Wimbledon, raised in Wimbledon, went to the boy’s school on the hill in Wimbledon, yes that one! Some of you reading this will recognise the surname, some of you liked me, some of you didn’t. It’s okay, I probably felt the same. Some of you who did know me won’t be surprised I’m transgender, you probably think it explains a lot.
Most of you don’t know me. Hopefully, I usually pass by largely unnoticed. Good, remember it is not nice to stare. You are probably still wondering how I can be you if I am transgender. I’ve been a Don since the mid-1980s when I was 10. For the last 35 (and a bit) years, I have, when I could, communed with you on Saturdays at 3pm. We have laughed together, cried together, danced when it’s gone well, and disappeared down the pub when it hasn’t. We celebrated massive victories together, and watched the club slowly ripped away from its home and its community, but never our hearts.
From abroad I watched a few determined individuals raise our eagle up like a phoenix. When we can’t make a game, and for me that’s more often that I would like, we spend our Saturdays watching rolling sports coverage, online scores, or listening to the radio. Together we dissect games, strategies, and substitutions always with that air of the all-knowing football fan. We have queued for buses after the game together and squeezed on them when they finally turn up together. We have been fans together.
And at last we go back to Plough Lane…. Together!
I was asked by the club if I have ever experienced any trouble being a transgender fan attending football. NO! Wimbledon fans are very accepting. I put that down to having the club taken away, it hurt us as individuals, made us push back, made us much more of a community than other clubs. It united us in a cause, it made us forever Dons. We were always the ‘Crazy Gang’, the renegades, the outsiders, the ones considered never quite good enough to rub shoulders with the big boys. All the fans know this, and I truly believe that is what has made Wimbledon such an accepting club. Don’t believe me? Take a look around at our fans at the next game you go to.
So do you really care if I’m transgender? Do you really care if I wear boys or girls clothing? Probably not, because I wear the same blue and yellow as you every week. I am transgender. I am a fan. I am an owner, I am you. I am a Don.
If I must be defined and labelled, then OK…… I am a proud don!
Gender identity and expression are central to the way we see ourselves and engage in the world around us. Visibility is important to make sure that the needs of trans people are met, discrimination is addressed, and individuals are not left feeling marginalised, alone and isolated.
Some ways you can be a better trans ally:
- Challenge anti-transgender remarks or jokes. If you see or hear it in the AFC Wimbledon world then please report it by e-mailing: email@example.com (non match day) or call 0770 464 9119 (on match days in the future)
- Use a person’s stated pronouns. If you see or hear pronouns mentioned, don’t make a fuss about it – just use them!
- State your own pronouns in your email signature to normalise it and make trans and non-binary people feel more comfortable sharing theirs too.
- If you don’t know what pronouns to use, listen first – use the person’s name in the meantime.
- Don’t ask a transgender person their “real name”.
- Avoid backhanded compliments or “tips” – like “I would never have known you’re transgender, you look so pretty!” – these are microaggressions.