A Dutch male-to-female transgender person, Marjolein Schepers (31), who was temporarily permitted to play with a team of under-20 girls in the Netherlands, celebrated being allowed to change in the girls’ dressing room by saying it was “the best gift I could get.”
Marjolein says playing football has always been a passion from an early age, but finding a team of young girls that welcomes 31-year-old transgender men has been a struggle, especially due to problems Marjolein has adhering to rules set by the Royal Football Association (KNVB), according to Dutch news outlet VRPO.
Marjolein, who fully transitioned two years ago and received updated gender status in her passport and official documents, has managed to register as a woman with the KNVB. She says the sport keeps her going, and that the experience of not playing football is a form of torture. The psychologist who guided her during her transition recently said that she is “on the edge of a burn out.”
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“Last spring, I had the best time of my life,” she said. After a difficult time at the club in her hometown of Westerbork, she found a connection with a girls’ team in Lisse, which was 200 kilometers away. The fact that she was in the car for up to five hours to train for an hour and a half was no problem. “I was finally accepted by my teammates. I joined in.”
For the first time, she did not have to change in a separate room while playing for the team in Lisse, but was welcome in the women’s dressing room, which she described as “the best gift I could get.”
However, Marjolein has not been permitted to play football for 16 weeks, and not only because she is experiencing pain in her hips, which may be a result of the administration of female hormones, but mainly because the KNVB does not allow her to play with a team that only consists of girls younger than age 20.
“I’m 31 years old, but I don’t feel that way. I’m full of hormones, and I feel like a 15-year-old girl,” said Marjolein. “The KNVB is afraid that I am too strong to play with and against young girls. That is not the case, and you cannot judge that from a chair in Zeist.’
The KNVB has its headquarters in the city of Zeist.
Marjolein has responded by inviting the football association in a letter to come and have a look at a training session, writing, “You will see that the happiest girl in the world is playing a nice game of football with her team.”