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This Top Israeli Soccer Referee Has Come Out To Become The First Trans Referee In Her Country

Sapir Berman, one of Israel’s top referees, made sports history when she officiated her first game in the Israeli Premier League after she came out as transgender in April.

Berman, 26, has been a referee for a decade, is a judge in the Israeli Premier League and has now become the first transgender referee who has officiated soccer in the country.

sapir berman israel first trans referee soccer three players
Israeli football referee Sapir Berman (L) follows players during the Israeli Premier League match between Hapoel Haifa and Beitar Jerusalem at Samy Ofer Stadium in Israel’s northern Mediterranean coastal city of Haifa on May 3, 2021. – Berman has come out as transgender and is living and enforcing the rules of the game as a woman. (Photo by JACK GUEZ / AFP) (Photo by JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images)

During a news conference, Berman told reporters she had always seen herself as a woman, even from a young age.

Israeli football referee Sapir Berman (R) gestures during the Israeli Premier League match between Hapoel Haifa and Beitar Jerusalem at Samy Ofer Stadium in Israel's northern Mediterranean coastal city of Haifa.
Israeli football referee Sapir Berman (R) gestures during the Israeli Premier League match between Hapoel Haifa and Beitar Jerusalem at Samy Ofer Stadium in Israel’s northern Mediterranean coastal city of Haifa. (Photo by JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images)

Once she realized society would not accept her as who she was, she continued keeping it a secret until she decided six months ago to come out, “to show who I am, first of all to myself, for my soul.”

She started living as a woman visually a few months ago.

Israeli football referee Sapir Berman (C) stands with other match officials and players on the pitch before the start of the Israeli Premier League match between Hapoel Haifa and Beitar Jerusalem at Samy Ofer Stadium in Israel's northern Mediterranean coastal city of Haifa.
Israeli football referee Sapir Berman (C) stands with other match officials and players on the pitch before the start of the Israeli Premier League match between Hapoel Haifa and Beitar Jerusalem at Samy Ofer Stadium in Israel’s northern Mediterranean coastal city of Haifa. (Photo by JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images)

Fans and players have started addressing her with the feminine form of Hebrew words, which Berman sees as a sign of respect for her decision to transition.

“It shows me there’s a change in society,” she said.

Beitar Jerusalem's captain and midfielder Idan Vered (C-R) inspects the manicured fingers of Israeli football referee Sapir Berman (C-L) before the start of the Israeli Premier League match between Hapoel Haifa and Beitar Jerusalem at Samy Ofer Stadium in Israel's northern Mediterranean coastal city of Haifa.
Beitar Jerusalem’s captain and midfielder Idan Vered (C-R) inspects the manicured fingers of Israeli football referee Sapir Berman (C-L) before the start of the Israeli Premier League match between Hapoel Haifa and Beitar Jerusalem at Samy Ofer Stadium in Israel’s northern Mediterranean coastal city of Haifa. (Photo by JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images)

After her announcement to the press, the Israel Football Association tweeted, “We have a new referee, Sapir Berman. The first referee to be transgender. We are so proud.”

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