Transgender N.S. student making an impact on and off the football field
A transgender teenager at Halifax West High School says the most nerve-wracking part of trying out for the football team wasn’t whether or not he’d make it – it was actually signing up.
But Kenny Cooley says he wasn’t going to let his nerves prevent him from doing what he wanted to do.
"I saw the poster on the school wall and said, ‘I could do this,’" Kenny says. “I was just really nervous about going in, and maybe somebody wasn't OK with me being transgender."
Kenny is a Grade 12 student, and also a pre-operation transgender female that identifies as male.
Monday night was his first football game.
"This is Kenny's first year playing football so he's very new to the sport, so he's still in the process of learning the game,” said head coach David Kelly. “But as a teammate, he seems to get along well with everybody."
Kenny says stepping onto the football field was the end of a long road that started two years ago when he transferred to Halifax West from his previous high school.
"Some of the student body wasn't very accepting of the LGBTQA community, but when I transferred (to Halifax West), everybody was so accepting. It was amazing," says Kenny.
Kenny’s mother, Pam Reinders-Cooley, says he’s treated like “one of the guys.”
“That's what he wants,” she says. “To be included and one of the guys, so I thank the team for everything they've been doing and continue to do. They seem to be a great group of kids."
Kelly believes Kenny will continue to make an impact both with the team and with anyone in a similar situation.
"It may help kids understand Kenny's issues and some of the things Kenny has been facing, and it will give them a perspective they probably haven't had before," says Kelly.
Kenny wants to pass on a message for anyone who has nerves about trying out for a new team.
"If you're unsure about going out for a team because you're scared, or you just don't feel like it's right for you, just take the risk, take the jump."
It’s a risk Kenny says is worth tackling head-on.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Allan April.