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

Ellis Ross (left), BC Liberal party, celebrated with his wife, Tracey after being named the preliminary winner of the 2020 snap provincial election. (Cameron Ehl photo)
Ross named preliminary winner of snap election

BC Liberals’ Ellis Ross named the re-elected MLA for Skeena riding

Voting has officially closed throughout B.C. for the 2020 snap provincial election. (Clare Rayment)
Map of Skeena polling stations

Watch the updates on the map below as polling stations are counted throughout Skeena riding

NDP headquarters on election night, Oct. 24, 2020. (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)
ELECTION 2020: Live blog from B.C. party headquarters

BC NDP projected to win majority government – but celebrations will look different this election

B.C. Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau outlines her party's climate action platform at Nanaimo's Vancouver Island Conference Centre earlier this month. (News Bulletin file photo)
Green leader Furstenau declared victor in her home riding on Vancouver Island

Cowichan Valley voters elect freshly minted party leader for her second term

John Horgan has been re-elected the MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca. (File-Black Press)
Horgan trounces challengers to be re-elected in his Vancouver Island riding

MLA has represented constituency of Langford-Juan de Fuca and its predecessors since 2005

NDP Leader John Horgan celebrates his election win in the British Columbia provincial election in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan celebrates projected majority NDP government, but no deadline for $1,000 deposit

Premier-elect says majority government will allow him to tackle issues across all of B.C.

FILE – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets Premier John Horgan during a press conference at the BC Transit corporate office following an announcement about new investments to improve transit for citizens in the province while in Victoria on Thursday, July 18, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Trudeau congratulates Horgan on NDP’s election victory in British Columbia

Final count won’t be available for three weeks due to the record number of 525,000 ballots cast by mail

Comedic actor Seth Rogen, right, and business partner Evan Goldberg pose in this undated handout photo. When actor Seth Rogen was growing up and smoking cannabis in Vancouver, he recalls there was a constant cloud of shame around the substance that still lingers. Rogen is determined to change that. (Maarten de Boer ohoto)
Seth Rogen talks about fighting cannabis stigma, why pot should be as accepted as beer

‘I smoke weed all day and every day and have for 20 years’

Provincial Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau speaks at Provincial Green Party headquarters at the Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe in Victoria. (Arnold Lim / Black Press)
VIDEO: Furstenau leads BC Greens to win first riding outside of Vancouver Island

Sonia Furstenau became leader of BC Greens one week before snap election was called

NDP Leader John Horgan elbow bumps NDP candidate Coquitlam-Burke Mountain candidate Fin Donnelly following a seniors round table in Coquitlam, B.C., Tuesday, October 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan, NDP head for majority in B.C. election results

Record number of mail-in ballots may shift results

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

The Canadian border is pictured at the Peace Arch Canada/USA border crossing in Surrey, B.C. Friday, March 20, 2020. More than 4.6 million people have arrived in Canada since the border closed last March and fewer than one-quarter of them were ordered to quarantine while the rest were deemed “essential” and exempted from quarantining. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Majority of international travellers since March deemed ‘essential’, avoid quarantine

As of Oct. 20, 3.5 million travellers had been deemed essential, and another 1.1 million were considered non-essential

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Friday October 23, 2020 in Ottawa. Canada’s top physician says she fears the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths may increase in the coming weeks as the second wave continues to drive the death toll toward 10,000. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns severe illness likely to rise, trailing spike in COVID-19 cases

Average daily deaths from virus reached 23 over the past seven days, up from six deaths six weeks ago

Most Read