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Hockey Paves Way for Inclusion in Sports

By KAI PAGE

This November, practice started for Team Trans, a Massachusetts hockey team composed entirely of transgender and gender non-conforming players. They welcome all players who identify as trans, with a goal of showing that everyone belongs in hockey. Some members have not undergone a transition and some aren’t even out publicly, but they are all welcome to be part of a strong trans community on the ice. It’s the first known all-trans sports team in the US and one of the first worldwide.

Since the 1990s, an organization called Boston Pride Hockey has coordinated amateur all-LGBTQ+ hockey teams. Many of the Team Trans players have played with them, but it’s not quite the same. Things as simple as deciding which locker room to change in were more difficult for trans players than the rest of the players. A trans member of the team, Aidan Cleary, organized a Facebook group of trans hockey players nationwide and talked to Boston Pride’s president, Greg Sargent. They officially organized the team, and trans players travelled to Boston from all over the country for the first practice.

The team was constructed of players of all levels, from people who were relatively new on ice skates to professional hockey players. One of those was Harrison Browne. He spent three successful seasons in the National Women’s Hockey League, and came out as trans after his first season. He was the first trans athlete out in professional team sports. He retired in 2018 to undergo hormone treatment and complete his transition. Now he is back on the ice to play with Team Trans, many of whom have looked up to him as a rare professional athlete that has an athletic experience they can identify with. Another member of the team is Jessica Platt, who was the first trans woman in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League. She has been subject to constant criticism over her perceived biological advantage, but she doesn’t have to face constant questioning when playing with Team Trans.

For these athletes, Team Trans is the first time they can compete as who they truly are, instead of being divided into gender-based leagues like athletes typically are from a young age.

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