Harrison Browne, centre, takes a shot on Stephen Cadigan during Boston Pride Hockey LGBT hockey action in Boston in this undated handout image. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Boston Pride Hockey LGBT-Kyle Outlaw

Harrison Browne, centre, takes a shot on Stephen Cadigan during Boston Pride Hockey LGBT hockey action in Boston in this undated handout image. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Boston Pride Hockey LGBT-Kyle Outlaw

All-transgender hockey team ‘like an instant family’

It’s the first hockey team made entirely of transgender men, transgender women, gender non-conforming athletes

The goals are big for an all-transgender hockey team known as Team Trans.

Comprised of more than a dozen players from Canada and the United States, it’s believed to be the first ice hockey team made entirely of transgender men, transgender women, and gender non-conforming athletes.

Honorary co-captain Harrison Browne says hitting the ice for the first time with the squad earlier this month was “life-changing,” and he hopes it can be an inspiration to athletes of all stripes who may struggle to find a safe space to be themselves.

“A lot of kids feel like they don’t have a place in sport because sport in the past and in history has been so binary — it’s always broken into men’s and women’s sides,” says the Oakville, Ont.-born Browne, whose professional career included championship wins with the female Metropolitan Riveters and the Buffalo Beauts in the U.S.

“There hasn’t been … a team that has basically said, ‘We support you, we are here for you.’ I think this is the first time it’s really ever been seen in hockey.”

That remarkable first game took place at a tournament in Cambridge, Mass., called the Friendship Series. They faced off against the Boston Pride, an LGBTQ+ hockey organization that hosted the scrimmage, even paying for the ice time and ordering the team’s pink-and-blue jerseys, says an appreciative Kat Ferguson, a forward who made the trip from Ottawa.

The players themselves connected through social media and began laying the groundwork for a possible gathering some eight months ago, adds Ferguson, among about four Canadians on the team.

While most of the players hail from the U.S. northeast, Ferguson says they included players from the Midwest and one from California.

Some had decades of experience like Ferguson and Browne, others were more casual players who just played recreationally. One had just learned to skate.

But Ferguson, who identifies as non-binary and prefers the “they” and “them” pronouns, says they were united by shared life experiences little seen in hockey.

“There was no stress about locker room situations. We all have different scars and different life experiences and stuff like that. We’re all kind of hiding things, usually in one way or another, when we play with our regular teams,” says Ferguson, who added they’ve been embraced by both male and female hockey teams in Ottawa.

“It was like an instant family. It was really special… Honestly, by the end of the weekend we were all sobbing because it was over. It was really emotionally amazing.”

The next goal is to make sure the games don’t end there.

Ferguson, 41, says plans are to arrange another round in Madison, Wis., in the spring, and again in Toronto in a year.

While they acknowledge hockey is evolving to embrace a broad array of fans, Ferguson says Team Trans can help further promote education, awareness, and acceptance. The sports environment is still ”very gendered,” they say, and that has forced many trans players to abandon team sports.

“In pretty much everything, you have to pick a gender and for a lot of people … they can’t pick a gender (or) there are a lot of years where our bodies are different and our hormones are different,” says Ferguson, who takes hormones to present as masculine.

ALSO READ: B.C. politicians view supermodel’s transition journey on Transgender Day

Browne concurs, noting that even though his successful professional career included very supportive teammates, there were disconnects that grated.

“I was always called Brownie so I never really had to connect with my birth name but I was with female pronouns,” says Browne, who came out in 2016 and prefers he/him.

“And with rosters and everything like that when you’re announced on the ice you’re announced by your first name so it was a constant reminder.”

Co-captain and professional player Jessica Platt says Team Trans bonded immediately over such struggles. She, too, is considered a pioneer for coming out publicly in January 2018.

“For a lot of transgender people you can feel the hostility in the hockey atmosphere because it’s still very much a male-dominated sport where anyone who’s seen as different is typically made fun of or is an outcast,” says the 30-year-old Platt, who plays with the Professional Women’s Hockey Players’ Association in Kitchener, Ont. The group is largely comprised of members of the former Canadian Women’s Hockey League.

“Only recently has women’s hockey been getting a lot more media attention.”

Browne, 26, agrees, saying what the sport needs are “options.”

“I don’t think that people should be necessarily put into so many different boxes and not be allowed to play,” says Browne, who played in the National Women’s Hockey League in the United States until retiring in 2018 to start his physical transition.

“If you want to play with other trans people then that (should be) there. Or if you want to play on an all-men’s team, that’s there for you. Or if you want to play on an all-women’s team, that’s there for you. If you want to play on a co-ed team, it’s there for you.”

Cassandra Szklarski, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Commercial Street and other areas of Nanaimo’s downtown are now part of a new business improvement area following a petition-against process this spring. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: BIA process wasn’t fair to small business

Mom-and-pop shops will be challenged to pay the levy during hard times, says letter writer

Nanaimo RCMP report that a number of scams, many of them familiar, have recently resurfaced in Nanaimo and cost victims thousands of dollars. (File photo)
Nanaimo man scammed after lending money and receiving fake gold jewelry in return

RCMP provide details of several recent scams to warn the public

A memorial to former Abbotsford and RCMP police officer Shinder Kirk in Cedar, B.C. Kirk died in a car accident on Cedar Road in December 2018. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Trial begins in Nanaimo for man involved in car crash that killed retired police sergeant

RCMP accident reconstructionist takes stand in trial of Conrad Nikolaus Wetten

Next week Nanaimo singer Laura Kelsey is releasing her new single A Foolish Thing and its accompanying music video. (Video still courtesy Greg Nuspel)
Nanaimo singer joined by wolf, dancers in new music video

‘A Foolish Thing’ is Laura Kelsey’s first professionally made single in seven years

B.C. Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Sheila Malcolmson announces an app that is intended to connect children and youths with mental health and addictions services. (B.C. Government image/Flickr)
5 years in the making: Mental health app for youths launches in B.C.

The province provided $1.6 million to fund virtual care platform

B.C. Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Sheila Malcolmson announces an app that is intended to connect children and youths with mental health and addictions services. (B.C. Government image/Flickr)
5 years in the making: Mental health app for youths launches in B.C.

The province provided $1.6 million to fund virtual care platform

Police were on the scene of a fatal shooting in Abbotsford. (Black Press Media files)
B.C. government to give more than $8 million for programs to curb gang violence

221 not-for-profit projects led by local governments and school districts among others will receive a one-time grant

Gord Judson steers his log truck down a forest service road, using two-way radio and call signals to mark his position for oncoming traffic. (B.C. Forest Safety Council)
Planning some B.C. wilderness fishing? Don’t catch a log truck

Remote recreation areas bracing for heavy pandemic pressure

Former University of British Columbia student Stephanie Hale, 22. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff Bassett
Human Rights Tribunal to hear complaint against UBC Okanagan for ‘mishandling’ sexual assault report

Stephanie Hale did not return to campus after the student she alleges attacked her was cleared of wrongdoing

Jennifer Coffman, owner of Truffle Pigs in Field, B.C., poses beside her business sign on Thursday, May 6, 2021, in this handout photo. Her restaurant and lodge have been hit hard by a closure of a section of the Trans-Canada Highway and by the British Columbia government discouraging Alberta residents from visiting during the pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Jennifer Coffman, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
‘Why we survive’: B.C. boundary towns struggle without Albertans during pandemic

Jennifer Coffman’s restaurant is located in the tiny community of Field, which relies on tourism

NEW CUTLINE Payphone use is declining dramatically. (Black Press Files)

This payphone sits just east of TD Bank in Parksville, on Harrison Avenue. (Emily Vance photo)
Last call approaches for Vancouver Island payphones?

Some payphones don’t get used for days as mobile phones diminishing need

Garden centre manager Jack Olszewski and Chris Beaudoin say business has grown by 50 per cent at the Sooke Home Hardware Store. (Rick Stiebel - Sooke News Mirror)
Flower power: COVID restrictions fuel bloom boom on Vancouver Island’

More people seeking flowers to add colour, says Sooke landscaper

A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to start releasing neighbourhood-specific COVID numbers after data leak

Documents obtained by the Vancouver Sun show cases broken down by neighbourhoods

Ladysmith RCMP safely escorted the black bear to the woods near Ladysmith Cemetary. (Town of Ladysmith/Facebook photo)
Black bear tranquillized, relocated after wandering around residential Ladysmith

A juvenile black bear was spotted near 2nd Avenue earlier Friday morning

Most Read