On May 3, 2021 Sapir Berman made sports history after officiating at a soccer match in the Israeli Premier League, since first coming out as transgender. During a press conference on April 25, Berman, 26, publically announced her transition stating that “she had always seen herself as a female, even at a young age.” What’s more, she’s also managed to earn the reputation as a top referee in Israel’s soccer league.
Tweeting it’s support as Berman took the field for the match between Beitar Jerusalem and Hapoel Haifa, the Israel Football Association, posted, “This is the first step in a long and wonderful journey. Sapir, we are proud to do it with you.”
In a statement to Israeli news media, Berman attests that prior to her public announcement, players, while addressing her, had already begun using the feminine form of words in Hebrew. “They really feel that they want to somehow take part in this process and even speak to me when it's not necessary and speak to me as a woman. So thank you,” she said.
Berman has been applauded for her bravery. According to reports, outside the stadium in the northern city of Haifa, one fan carried a banner that hailed Berman as a ‘super woman, incredible, brave’.
Berman, however, is not the first transgender referee in the soccer world. Back in 2018, Lucy Clark, a British soccer referee, came out as transgender.