Adelaide United’s Grace Wilson (they/them) has bravely come forward to share their non-binary identity with the world.

In a step forward for inclusivity in sports, Wilson’s courageous revelation marks a significant milestone not only for the player personally, but for the broader football community, promoting diversity and acceptance.

Wilson – who is the first openly non-binary player in the A-Leagues – expressed their gratitude and support received by the entire club.

“This was the first step in my journey, but I had a phenomenal reaction,” they said about revealing their identity to their Adelaide United teammates.

“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.”

Professional Footballers Australia CEO Kate Gill added: “It is essential that everyone has the opportunity to participate in sport, regardless of their sex or gender identity.

“Grace affirming their authentic self sends a clear message that football is for everyone”

Wilson has been part of Adelaide’s A-League Women’s side since the 2021-22 season, but is yet to make their first senior appearance.

The 18-year-old is currently on international duty with the Young Matildas ahead of the commencement of the AFC Under-20 Women’s Asian Cup in Uzbekistan.

Before linking up with their national team teammates, Wilson sat down with Adelaide’s media arm to detail their story.

“My gender and my perception of gender doesn’t fit into the western standards of man or woman,” they said in an interview, released by the club on Friday.

“For me personally, I don’t really feel anywhere near that. I feel separated from that. Other non-binary people might feel in between or a bit of both, or they may have that fluidity.

“It’s really important to understand every non-binary experiences this differently and they will all have their own stories.

“I’ve kind of really understood I’m non-binary for a year and a bit… but I think looking back, I kind of knew since I was a kid.

“A lot of things as a kid I didn’t see the gender of it. I was a hyper-active kid and I always wanted to play and always wanted to do something with my hands. If one day that meant I was wearing the knight suit and fighting off a dragon or the next I was going to sow, I was simply doing that. I didn’t see that as supposed to be for girls or for boys, but I was taught that unfortunately.

“As I grew up, I got taught that girls are supposed to act one way and look one way. But I always felt super disconnected from that. The only thing that really tied me in was my really long hair, so I was able to do my hair with my friends. That was to me a link that made me feel feminine.

“When I was 16, one of my idols G Flip, they came out as non-binary. I knew about the term and had people in my life who were non-binary. But seeing someone who I looked up to so much come out, it made me reflect on who I was. Seeing someone with long hair, in my mind made them a woman, that really made me question ‘what is this, could I be non-binary?’.

“But I was 16, I thought nah that is way too difficult to think about at the moment. Then a year later, I did the world’s greatest shave and shaved off all my hair. For the first time seeing myself in the mirror, I was like oh my god, what has happened, where has my femininity gone? The thing that tied me to being a girl, a woman, close to my friends was suddenly gone. I thought, this is a bit strange.

“I remember I walked into a shop and there was this older lady and she greeted me. She said ‘hey miss, how are you going?’. I was like hmmm, not a fan of that. I was shopping around and we were talking and she went, ‘I really miss being a young girl like yourself’. I thought that’s completely wrong. I remember getting back into the car and going, I’m non-binary. That’s it, I can’t deny it anymore.

“That was about a year ago. For me, the biggest issue was fighting those internalised gender stereotypes that I placed on myself and others. Removing all of that, allowed me to fully understand who I was.”

Adelaide United will face Melbourne Victory in a Pride Cup double-header on Saturday, March 9 at Coopers Stadium.