James Johnson, once known as Iyabo Abade when he played for the Super Falcons, is reaching out to the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) for financial assistance to undergo a critical surgery. Johnson, who transitioned from female to male in 2004, needs this surgery to complete his transformation and fulfill his dream of having children.

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From 1997 to 2000, Johnson was a standout player for the Super Falcons. He was a confirmed hermaphrodite, meaning he had both male and female organs. In 2004, with the help of Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, then Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Johnson underwent a sex change operation in the United States. This was the first two phases of a four-phase process.

Johnson explained his situation in an emotional appeal to the NFF. He said he reached out to the federation in 2023 asking for N69.7 million, the equivalent of $160,000, to cover the final two stages of his surgery. So far, he hasn’t received a response.

“Every time I think about not being able to father a child, it breaks my heart,” Johnson shared in an interview with Punch. “That’s why I wrote to the federation for help. I believe the NFF president, Ibrahim Gusau, is a kind man, and I hope he can help me achieve my dream.”

In his letter to NFF president Ibrahim Gusau, dated April 4, 2023, Johnson detailed his request. He explained that the money is needed to travel back to the United States for the final surgeries at Midway Hospital Medical Centre in Los Angeles.

“My President, I am using this medium to passionately appeal to you for God and humanity’s sake, to use your good office to assist me financially,” Johnson wrote. “I need to complete the third and fourth phases of my transformation to a full-fledged man so that I can father children. The total cost is $160,000, equivalent to N69,750,000.”




Victoria Ibiama