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Transgender referee takes charge in England

© AFP/File | UK football referee Lucy Clark, who is transgender, will initially officiate women's matches as she begins working again, but hopes to move back into the men's game, where she once officiated in the seventh to 10th tier

LONDON (AFP) - 

A transgender referee was to set to take charge of a football match in England on Sunday in what was hailed by the British press as a first.

"People will be a bit shocked when I run on to the pitch," Lucy Clark, 46, formerly known as Nick, told the Sunday Mirror.

"But I'm the same person. I will just look a bit different."

Semi-professional referee Clark, a taxi driver from Surrey, southwest of London, is married with three children.

She said she has attempted suicide in the past and felt like a woman trapped in a man's body from an early age.

Clark said she has been "on hormones" for three years and will be having gender reassignment surgery next year.

She will initially referee women's matches but hopes to move back into the men's game, where as Nick she officiated in the seventh to 10th tier of English football.

"Players I can deal with. I can just give red or yellow cards to them. It's the fans -- that's where the issues could come," she said.

"I'm preparing myself for the derogatory comments. I don't want to lose my control and I don't want to be putting complaints into clubs about the behaviour of their fans.

"I'm hoping that me doing this will encourage other transgender people to continue with their passions and not give it up because they're transgender."

The Football Association, the game's governing body in England, said Clark had their backing.

"The FA fully supports Lucy and anyone else who wants to participate in football in their preferred gender," it said in a statement.

"Football is for all and in 2014, the FA announced a policy, as well as an information guide distributed to all clubs, to encourage trans people to participate in football."

© 2018 AFP