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Lucy Clarke is football's first transgender referee, and she's set to take part in her first match.

The 46-year-old, who was known as 'Nick' by the football world for years, will be officiating a semi-professional women's football match, and she is worried about the way fans will react.

She told the Sunday Mirror:

I hope the world accepts me for the person I am. 

I can appreciate people will be a bit shocked when I run on to the pitch, but I'm the same person. I just look a bit different. It'll be nice not to live in two different worlds and to be me. 

Lucy is married with children, and says she's 'kept this secret hidden away' for most of her life. She doesn't want to do that anymore. Avril, wife and mother to her children, is supportive of both her career and her decision.

She tells the SundayMirror that the Football Association was supportive of her decision to transition. They said they 'fully support Lucy and anyone else who wants to participate in football in their preferred gender'.

Football's traditionally hyper-masculine background is a source of worry, and she admits that she's 'a bit concerned' about how the industry, the fans and the sportsmen and women, will react to the change:

I'm preparing myself for the derogatory comments. I don't want to lose my control and I don't want to be putting complaints into clubs about the behaviour of their fans.

'I'm a bit concerned. If I've suddenly got 200 people shouting stuff about me I don't know how I'll react,' she added.

She also spoke about the struggles of living as a man. 'No one chooses to be transgender,' she said.

I took tablets and drank alcohol. I ended yp having my stomach pumped. A ridiculously high percentage of transgender people attempt suicide. How many succeeded, we don't know.

Though there were challenges getting to where she is, Lucy is determined to officiate the women's matches.

I am looking to the future and want to progress as a referee...when I blow that whistle, I can finally be myself. 

I've waited a lifetime for that. 

You can read the entire, exclusive interview here.

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