Adelaide United and Young Matildas player Grace Wilson has come out as non-binary. Photograph: Adelaide United
Adelaide United and Young Matildas player Grace Wilson has been hailed for their bravery after becoming the first professional footballer in Australia to come out as non-binary.
The goalkeeper shared that they are non-binary on Friday amid widespread support from teammates, management and staff at the A-League Women’s club.
“This was the first step in my journey, but I had a phenomenal reaction,” Wilson said.
“The girls were lovely about it and I got a hug from every player. As soon as I said it, cheers, and applause – it was this lovely thing.
“I felt so comfortable and supported, it was probably one of the best feelings.”
Wilson is considered a bright talent and was last month selected in the Young Matildas squad to take part in the AFC Under-20 Women’s Asian Cup later this month in Uzbekistan.
Wilson said their perception of gender does not fit into the western standards of man and woman, and that finally making the announcement came as a huge relief to them.
“Every non-binary person experiences this differently,” Wilson told Holly Ransom, Pride Cup board chair. “As a kid, I didn’t see that things were supposed to be for girls or for boys but I was taught that as I grew up.
“You don’t realise how much of a difference it makes. Being referred to as ‘they/them’ for the first time gave me this euphoric feeling. I just wanted to be free.”
There may be other players in the ALW who identify as non-binary, but Wilson is the first to come out publicly. AFLW star Darcy Vescio became the second AFLW player to come out as non-binary in 2021, following in the footsteps of Tori Groves-Little.
Adelaide United has been vocal in its championing of gender equality in the past, and was supportive of men’s player Josh Cavallo in 2021 when he came out, becoming the only openly gay man playing in any top flight at the time.
At the international level, Canada midfielder Quinn made history when they became the first transgender and non-binary person to appear at either a men’s or women’s World Cup last year.
“Adelaide United Football Club is proud to be at the forefront of this movement, championing equality both on and off the pitch,” a club statement read on Friday.
Adelaide’s head of football, Marius Zanin, said: “We stand behind Grace wholeheartedly and commend their bravery in sharing their authentic self with the world.
“At Adelaide United, we believe in fostering an inclusive and welcoming environment for all individuals, regardless of gender identity.”