Soccer
Society 28/06/2022

Valentina Berr, the first Catalan transgender footballer, gives up

"I couldn't take the panic and anxiety attacks I was suffering any more," the CE Europa player explains

3 min
Valentina Berr, transgender soccer player, during a match with CE Europa

BarcelonaValentina Berr has decided to give up. The first trans federated football player in Catalonia – and the second in Spain – announced this Tuesday, on International LGBTI+ Pride Day, that she is abandoning federated football "to preserve her mental health". The 28-year-old player of CE Europa, a Barcelona team with which this season had achieved promotion to the Spanish second division, explained that she is giving up football reluctantly. She does so because of the pressures of playing as a trans woman: "I'm not hanging up my boots; they hanging them up for me. I could no longer stand the panic and anxiety attacks I had increasingly been suffering in recent months," she said in a statement.

Berr denounces "the hatred and structural violence against trans women by institutions, media and also many people who spend their time harassing people who are outside the norm". The football player tells ARA that she has suffered several unpleasant experiences with the press, and that she has encountered people who are "unprepared to understand or do not want to understand what it means to be a trans football player". The comments she has had to listen to for the simple fact of wanting to play football have also weighed heavily. "It has even been insinuated in certain media that I am a danger to girls in the women's locker room," she says.

Regarding institutions, she laments the burden of feeling "permanently under suspicion" when it comes to meeting the testosterone limits for being part of a women's team. The Ripollet-born player criticises the pressure she suffers when she is "constantly" required to comply with these levels established by international bodies so that she is not banned from playing. These levels, Berr explains, many teammates who are not trans "could easily exceed by some margin".

All this has led the footballer to make this decision. "I want today, June 28, to be the day I officially put an end to my career. A career that has been painful, full of obstacles and violence that will not fit in ten statements and which has nothing to do with football. But I am proud to put my body on the line so that future generations can experience it with less pain, fewer obstacles and less violence. So that they can experience football for what it is: football".

Berr did not want to forget her teammates, her rivals and the various clubs she has played for. She thanked them for their support and understanding of sexual diversity in the world of footballs. "We are lesbians, heteros, bisexuals, very masculine girls, very feminine girls, trans girls and even trans boys! Women's soccer, far from being exclusive, is rich and seeks to embrace everyone who wants to be part of it. Reality is diverse, and women's soccer is this reality. It has nothing to do with this parallel world of men with multi-million dollar contracts, hegemonic masculinity and compulsory heterosexuality."

The support of CE Europa

On the other hand, CE Europa, the team which she has been playing for since 2020, has given her full support in a statement. "We would all like that people only give up football purely because they want to, putting a good end to the athlete in question's story. This is not the case of Valentina, who for mental health reasons has had to hang up her boots. The soccer player has experienced in recent years the pressure, contempt and insults from different environments and groups due to her being a trans player," they explain. In addition, the club had already positioned itself previously against this type of discrimination with its Say no campaign against racism, gender discrimination, homophobia and anti-bullying.

Berr, who became the first trans player to participate in a women's football match as a federated player in 2018, now sees that she does not have the strength to continue. She thus says goodbye to a passion, but will continue with her project of making trans and LGTBI+ realities better known and understood. Based on podcasts, training talks and educational content on social networks, it is called The Answer to Everything. Her struggle continues.

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