The National Women’s Hockey League Pledges To Protect Its Transgender Players

Photo: Andy Marlin/Getty Images/NWHL.
When National Women’s Hockey League player Harrison Browne came out as a trans man in October, he became the first trans pro athlete on a North American team, The New York Times reports.

Without any precedent, it was unclear whether a man should be allowed to play on a women's sports team. So, the NWHL has created a policy specifically to address this question, New York Magazine reports. It states that "people designated female at birth, regardless of their gender identity" are allowed on the women's team and says the league "supports athletes choosing to express their gender beyond the binary of female and male."

The policy is based on the International Olympic Committee's guidelines, according to The New York Times. The Olympic Committee's guidelines also specify that trans people don't need to have surgery to compete on the team of the gender they identify with. Browne doesn't plan to get surgery or hormone treatments while he's with the NWHL.

Browne, formerly Hailey Browne, explained to ESPN that he didn't feel out of place on a woman's team. "On the ice, when I put that equipment on, I'm a hockey player. I don't think about who I'm playing with, I don't think I'm playing with women. I don't think I'm in the wrong body."

NWHL commissioner Dani Rylan doesn't believe Browne's transition should make a difference either. "At the end of the day, Harrison is the same player he was last year," she said. "We're here to support him. It's really not a big deal when you look at it, we're respecting his name, the pronouns and his request to be his authentic self."

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