Trans football referee Lucy Clark has described the “surreal” feeling of being included in a display at the National Football Museum.
Clark, officially named by Guinness World Records as the world’s first trans referee, came out in August 2018 – officiating her first game on the same day.
Not just a referee, Clark has gone on to make a name for herself as a leader both on the football scene and in trans activism, and has now been recognised by the National Football Museum, in Manchester.
Alongside trophies, strips and boots from major international tournaments, and other football regalia, the museum is displaying the referee shirt and boots that Clark wore on the day she came out publically as trans.
Clark has also donated a match ball and programme from a TRUK United fixture – the all-trans football team she formed in 2021 as a spin-off from her Trans Radio station.
Clark said she was “delighted” and “honoured” to be included in the display.
“I believe football is for everyone and think that everyone should be able to play the beautiful game. There should be no barriers to stop people from enjoying the most amazing game in the world,” she told PinkNews.
Speaking after the displays were unveiled, she described the situation as surreal because all she “has ever done is be myself”, adding: “It’s a bit crazy that these are being shown off in the museum because that was never my intention.
“I’m really humbled and it’s crazy to think that when I’m not here, people will still be able to come and know a little bit about my story.”
Clark hopes the museum’s thousands of visitors will be able to see trans visibility and “trans joy” through her objects, as well as being given the opportunity to “think and reflect” about the fact “that somebody continued to do something they loved and never stopped just because they were transgender”.
She added: “Hopefully, if there [are] any other trans people who will be here – and I’m sure there will – they will be inspired to continue doing something they love.”
TRUK United has made history twice, first in March 2022 as the first club to field a team consisting solely of trans women in an 11-a-side match, against Dulwich Hamlet. Exactly one year later, the club played the same opposition, this time fielding a team of solely trans men.
Clark has also launched TRUK Listens – a trans helpline that offers free advice – after receiving calls from people seeking support on Trans Radio.
For Clark, sport has been a lifesaver, one which continues to benefit both her physical and mental health.
She said she will “get on [her] soapbox every day” about trans people being allowed to take part in sport.
“Trans people playing sport, I will bang that drum constantly because it’s good for trans people’s mental health and it’s good for trans people’s physical health.
“Trans people shouldn’t be stopped from playing sport, whatever sport that they want to play, whether they want to play at grassroots or elite level.”
Tim Desmond, the museum’s chief executive, said: “Football is for all, and we passionately champion inclusion and diversity across the game.
“Through our Football Creates programme, our role as a museum is to share important and inspirational stories like Lucy’s. Thanks to her kind donation to the Football Heritage Collection, we can raise awareness of her powerful journey in football.”