Israel has just taken a new step in accepting differences. Refereeing his first match under his new identity, Sapir Berman became the country’s first transsexual football referee on Monday evening. The match between Hapoel Haifa and Beitar Jerusalem, respectively 9th and 10th in the standings, ended with the victory of the Haifa club by a score of 3 to 1.
The one previously called Sagui Berman, a male first name, announced at a press conference at the end of April that she was changing her sexual identity and first name. 26-year-old Sapir Berman, who has refereed since 2011 in the Israeli championship under her previous name, was welcomed at the Ofer stadium in Haifa to the applause of the crowd but also to whistles. A supporter carried a sign that read “Sapir, we are all with you”.
“I do this process for me”
“I don’t know if I’m a pioneer or the first to do this, I’m doing this process for myself,” she said at the April press conference. Sapir Berman also confided to having received threats but also a lot of support on social networks and from his colleagues. For Ronit Tirosh, president of the Union of Israeli Referees, “Sapir is courageous and begins a historic process for Israeli football.”
The Hebrew state is considered to be ahead of the defense of the rights of the LGBT community, for example it recognizes gay marriages carried out abroad. Israeli transsexual singer Dana International won Eurovision in 1998, however, angering religious fundamentalists. Star of the international homosexual community, Dana International, whose real name is Sharon Cohen, had marked the history of the international song contest.