The boys’ football team of Halifax West High School in Halifax, Nova Scotia, now has its first transgender student player, Kennedy Cooley.
Cooley, 17, is a senior who recently transferred to the high school and had tried out for its football team.
He was initially ‘really nervous’ about his desire to join the sports team and was scared ‘maybe somebody wasn’t OK with me being transgender.’
Thankfully his fears turned out to be unfounded as the team welcomed him with open arms.
‘You feel like you’re a brother, you don’t feel like you’re a player,’ Cooley who plays wide receiver, remarked. ‘They’re just so open and they accept you for who you are.’
The teen shared that at his former school, he had felt that part of the student body ‘wasn’t very accepting of the LGBT community.’
He was feeling unaccepted and lonely, which was why he transferred to Halifax West.
‘Everybody has been welcoming and just treats him like one of the other guys,’ the teen’s mother, Pam Reinders-Cooley, described to CTV News.
‘That’s what he wants to be — included — and he wants to be one of the other guys,’ she said. ‘I thank the team for everything that they’ve been doing and have done and continue to do. They seem to be a great group of kids.’
The head coach of the football team, David Kelly, also shared his support for Cooley with CTV News, saying that the teen’s presence ‘helps the team understand issues that transgender youth face’ and ‘give them a perspective that they probably would not have had before.’
Cooley’s father Robert told ABC News that he hopes the family’s story will inspire other parents to realise ‘the beauty that can come from standing behind your kids and supporting them.’
‘He’s never been afraid of challenge, and we’ve always supported him as much as we could,’ he added. ‘It isn’t always easy, but at the end of the day, your goal as a parent is to make sure your child is a productive citizen in society, and when we look at him, we see that he is a good kid.’
Watch the inspiring story here: