University of Surrey Hockey Club member Xavier Wood has spoken about the acceptance he has felt as a transgender athlete competing for his club.
Wood started at the University in 2021 and he quickly started training with USHC, with this representing the first time he had played men’s hockey exclusively after facing barriers to the sport in his earlier years.
Here’s Xavier’s story in his own words…
“I started playing hockey at the age of 9 or 10 at my local club in my hometown. Very soon after I started playing regularly, I began to play as a goalkeeper for my Girl’s first junior team and progressed through the ladies teams as I grew older. A personal highlight was playing for my county Kent and progressing to Performance Centre.
“At the age of 16, I came out as transgender. I began to transition socially, and this was widely accepted both at work and college. However, my transition and starting to live as a male put an end to me both playing and competing in hockey. There were barriers which meant I wasn’t allowed to play ladies hockey due to me coming out or men’s hockey due to the physical disadvantage I faced. This was a massive blow for me and my enjoyment of the sport, which ultimately led to me falling out of the sport I had loved all my life.
“I started my Paramedic science course at the University in September 2021, where I began to train with the Men’s Hockey Team whenever possible. This was the first time I had played men’s hockey exclusively, and I enjoyed the step up in intensity with the knowledge that I would face no restrictions in my playing career. Unfortunately, I couldn’t play as much as I wanted to due to illness.
“This season I have attended more training sessions with the men’s teams, which significantly improved my confidence and allowed me to compete properly within a men’s team. On October 12th, I was selected to play for the Men’s 2s, which was my first time ever competing for a men’s team. Since then I have been selected to play for the undefeated University of Surrey Men’s 1s, as well as the Surrey Spartans Men’s 1s on the weekends.
“I am honoured to have the privilege to play the sport I love within my chosen gender, something that not every athlete can do. It is a privilege to be one of the first transgender hockey players, but this privilege should be a right. Team Surrey Hockey has shown its acceptance and dedication to making hockey a more inclusive game. This acceptance has given me the confidence to educate my team and club and invite others in the same position to take up a sport at university. I would love to see more transgender athletes across BUCS Wednesday Sports, but especially with me in the sport of hockey.”
Got your own Team Surrey story? Click HERE to submit yours now!