Wearing his Halifax West High School football uniform, Kenny Cooley looks like just another guy on the team. But the 17-year-old is transgender, a fact that left Cooley feeling unaccepted and lonely at his previous high school.

Halifax West, located in Nova Scotia, Canada, is different, though.

“They’re just so open and they accept you for who you are,” Cooley told Canada’s CTV (via ABC News) earlier this month about his new school.

The team, the new wide receiver said, took the welcome wagon a few miles farther.

“I had a couple guys come up to me during training camp and say, ‘This is a family sport. This is all about family. It doesn’t matter who you are, you’re part of the family if you’re playing for this team,’ ” Cooley told Canada’s Chronicle Herald this week.


West Halifax Coach David Kelly said the team isn’t merely happy to have Cooley on board, but is also grateful for the unique outlook he brings to the team.


Cooley’s presence helps “give [the team] a perspective that they probably would not have had before,” Kelly told CTV.

What the team’s demanding of Cooley on the field, however, will be no different than any other player, assistant head coach Nick MacLeod told the Chronicle Herald.

“When Kenny came here, we asked him the same thing that we ask everybody else, that you put the team first and work hard and give 100 percent effort,” MacLeod said.

Cooley may have to put in more effort than others, too. Not because he’s transgender, however, but because he lacks experience.


“[Cooley’s] very new to this sport, so I think he’s still in the process of learning the game,” Kelly said.

Cooley’s father doesn’t suspect his son’s newness to the game will be a problem.

“He’s never been afraid of challenge, and we’ve always supported him as much as we could,” Robert Cooley told ABC News last week. “It isn’t always easy, but at the end of the day, your goal as a parent is to make sure your child is a productive citizen in society, and when we look at him, we see that he is a good kid.”

And maybe a talented football player.