Washington Spirit forward Kumi Yokoyama came out as a transgender man on Saturday, becoming the highest-profile Japanese athlete to do so in a country where acceptance of LGBTQ issues faces numerous hurdles despite recent trends toward understanding.

In a video interview posted on the YouTube channel of former Nadeshiko Japan teammate Yuki Nagasato, the 27-year-old said that playing in the United States and Germany had shown Yokoyama that it could be possible to live openly.

“I’ve dated several women over the years but I had to stay closeted in Japan,” Yokoyama said in the 18-minute interview. “In Japan I’d always be asked if I had a boyfriend, but here (in the United States) I’m asked if I have a boyfriend or girlfriend.