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Rainbow Laces: Natasha's story

28 Nov 2018
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Ahead of PL's equality campaign, West Ham fan explains how football helped her cope with gender dysphoria

West Ham United have always played a large role in Natasha's life, from when she was a child to now as an adult.

The Hammers have been especially important through her gender transition.

"I was always a bit insecure even from the age of eight to nine," she says of her childhood. "That sadness and depression followed and got worse and worse."

Six years ago, Natasha was diagnosed with gender dysphoria, where a person experiences discomfort or distress because there is a mismatch between their sex assigned at birth and their gender identity.

"It's quite likely that this [depression] is linked and that I was always in the wrong body, representing myself as a male," she says.

Special memories

Throughout her time with gender dysphoria, football and West Ham provided Natasha with a sense of liberation.

"I went to home and away games and absolutely loved it," she says. "The noise. The banter. Particularly when the game started, the clapping.

"As a very young child that is one hell of a memory. And I still have those special memories."

And the ups and downs of being a West Ham fan provide Natasha with a reference point for her own life.

A new family

"Football has played a massive part," she says.

"That never giving up and hoping one day West Ham may finish in the top four. I've never given up and I have been in some very, very dark places on my transgender issues."

"You almost feel like a family at the match and I absolutely love that feeling"

Natasha

Having lost a lot of her family as a result of her battle with gender dysphoria, she finds attending matches at the London Stadium can help to fill that void.

"As soon as that whistle goes you've got 60,000 people praying and hoping for one thing, and that is that we score," she says.

"That is an immensely strong feeling. You almost feel like a family and I absolutely love that feeling."

Stonewall support

The Premier League proudly stands alongside Stonewall in promoting equality and diversity.

Our clubs will come together between 30 November and 5 December to celebrate Stonewall's 2018/19 Rainbow Laces campaign and show support for all LGBT people in football.

Natasha is all too aware of the power of the game to help the LGBT community.

"I shall never give up on my battle to get the message out that there are reasons why trans people do as we do," she says. "A lot of people are suffering with gender dysphoria.

"Football certainly has the power to bring people together."

Also in this series

Part 1: Premier League's Rainbow Laces
Part 3: Rainbow Laces: John's story
Part 4: Rainbow Laces: Zanka's story
Part 5: Rainbow Laces: Callum's story

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