Alba Palacios has made history, becoming the first transgender footballer in Spain. At 33 years of age, the Madrid-born player has realised her dream, becoming a registered player with Las Rozas CF, a women’s team in the third division. Her debut came this weekend in the club’s first match of the season, played in the Sur Getafe stadium. Alba started the match and scored after 20 minutes. A dream debut. “I was floating on air, when I scored I didn’t know what to do, but after being in a mini state of shock I went to celebrate with the coaching staff, my partner and the fans”, said Palacios to Spanish state broadcaster TVE.
Alba Palacios, then known as Álvaro, began playing football at 10, in the youth system of Pozuelo de Alarcón, staying with that club until 24 years of age, and having played in the men’s Tercera Division. She returned to football at 32, with the club K-2 in Majadahonda, and just afterwards started hormone therapy. “Football is a very sexist sport. The only person who knew was the coach, I told him because when I started the treatment my performances were going to fall off”, admits the player.
Debut in women's football
After making her debut, Alba Palacios showed her gratitude to the Comunidad de Madrid and the Madrid Football Federation, who provided the documents to allow Palacios to play as a registered player with a women’s team. “They made it all happen and they let me play before I completed two years since the start of the hormone therapy, so I’m grateful from the bottom of my heart for what they’ve done for me and the transgender community”, she said.
Registering to play women's football
“As [Alba Palacios] was already registered under the name of Álvaro, and with no new national ID number, it was impossible to create a new registration, so what we did was certify that Alba is authorised to play”, explained Nerea Alonso, spokeswoman for women’s football at the federation, to Spanish newspaper El País. In order to do so the federation relied on two pieces of regional legislation approved in 2016, one concerning gender identity and another on protection from LGBTI-phobia.
Alba, who is 1.70m and weighs 59kg, prefers to play as a right winger though her coach, David Herrero, is keen to use her in central defence, given her ability in the air and sense of positioning. He is also fully supportive of her: “The competitions are run in terms of sex, not levels of testosterone. Some women produce more than others. Alba’s testosterone has fallen with the hormone treatments. Biologically she can compete with women because she’s a woman. Her abilities have been developed over her life, and have nothing to do with her sex”, said the coach.