When Sophie Cook, aged 49, agreed to talk at the Live Laugh Love Ladies Club, I knew the tickets would sell fast. Women hold a fascination and admiration for change, but honestly support subjects we perhaps do not understand.
To make any decision to change what is perceived as safe or normal, has to ask the question why? Sophie quotes “People are held back in life by their fear, in their personal life, relationships, business or professionally. Fear of failure, fear of success, fear of losing someone or their job, fear of life'' Surely we are in awe of anyone who steps out of their comfort zone, but this story is extraordinary.
Sophies' story was emotional, uplifting and positive all at the same time and you could not hear a pin drop. She explained about how life was before Sophie was introduced to the world in 2015. “My wife knew I was transgender when I met her but when our son was born disabled and we nearly lost him, I realised we already had enough to deal with and I couldn’t put my family through it. I took Sophie, put her in a box and buried her for 15 years of hell. Every day I thought about suicide. It was a horrible, lonely, painful place to be. When, last year, I told my wife that I was finally going to transition she said she always knew it would come back. She’s a wonderful woman and though we are no longer man and wife, we are best friends.”
The couple had been married for 10 years and separated last year, though they are still good friends. In fact she supports her and gives her strength to believe every day she has made the right decision. Soul mates!
When asked about her children Sophie replied, “My children were brilliant. After I posted a poem on Facebook to thank Steve for his strength over the years my daughter responded: ‘You’re my hero. Steve was great but Sophie is better’.
Sophies' life as Steve, was far from feminine as an Ex-RAF, motorbike racer, newspaper editor, Premier League football and rock photographer. Despite all of this he, as Steve, lived his life in fear, of loss, of failure, of success, of being sad, of being happy, of being outed, of being loved. She said 'Because of these fears, no matter how hard I pushed myself to succeed subconsciously I would self sabotage and stop myself from reaching my full potential.' Sophie now talks about these fears and how she overcame them to be true to and, finally, start loving herself. She says 'I discuss the fear of change and how we can reframe our experience of fear to enable us to reach our potential, lessons I learnt on the painful road through loss to my ultimate redemption'.
Sophie Cook feared a backlash as she started a new season as herself – after finishing the last season as Steve in 2015. She said “Stood on the pitch at Charlton shooting my childhood team, AFC Bournemouth, crowned as Football League Champions, a dream come true, I was terrified that this was to be my last ever match in football. I’d already decided that I was going to come out as transgender during the summer and I thought that I’d lose everything.” However as the first transgender woman in UK football says she has been “totally accepted” by players and fans after decades of feeling trapped in the wrong body and now she’s on a mission to help others overcome their fears to live to their full potential.
In a recent article for the Daily Echo, they quote:
“Someone at Bournemouth like Sophie Cook is playing, I think, a fabulous role in driving a diversity and inclusion message using the power of football and its attraction into an audience that maybe wouldn’t be receptive to those messages – and that’s an area we’ve been very happy to help with," he said.
You can see the full article here
Sophie is up for the National Diversity Award and we all wish her well and of course she is invited back to our club next year. Look forward to that day Sophie.