Women's Sports: First Transgender Ice Hockey Team Hit Boston

First Transgender Ice Hockey Team Hit Boston

The friendly, hosted by Boston Pride Hockey, an LGBTQ intramural organisation with both cisgender and transgender members, was made possible after two trans players reached out to Boston Pride Hockey.

Hutch Hutchinson, a defensive player on Team Trans, and New York player Aidan Cleary discussed the need to create a space solely for transgender athletes. Cleary contacted Boston Pride Hockey Vice President Mark Tikonoff to enquire about the process of recruiting a full team of trans players. 

“We have a few trans members, but not enough to make an entire team, so we started to reach out — to other cities we play within national tournaments — San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Canada — to see if there were other players who might be interested in something like this,” Tikonoff said.

Following a wealth of interest, the group organised the event, secured a space and raised the funds necessary to run the tournament.

“For us, we didn’t realize how much we had in common, and we didn’t realize — I’m speaking personally — how much this community was underserved,” Tikonoff said. “As a cis gay man going into a locker room with other cis gay men, I don’t fear for my safety and I don’t fear judgment and I don’t fear exposing part of myself to people.”

It is attitudes and events like this that provide individuals of the LGBTQ community with the support and encouragement they need to enter the world of competitive sports. Hockey player Harrison Browne thought to be the first openly transgender athlete in any professional U.S. team sport, experienced life without any trans athletes to look up to until Chris Mosier, a pioneer for transgender triathletes came to the forefront.

Browne said: “a trans athlete while still being a triathlete, for me, when you see it, you can be it.”
Browne’s own experience coming out as transgender back in 2016 whilst playing for the Buffalo Beuts, a team within the National Women’s Hockey League, received “a flood of people reaching out on social media saying, ‘It’s amazing to see you play your sport and be yourself.’”

It was Browne’s personal desire to push such positive representation that drew him into last weekend’s Team Trans vs. Boston Pride Hockey fixture.

Team Trans lost to Boston Pride in both games but, regardless, Hutchinson spoke of the “honour” in playing alongside Browne and Jessica Platt – the two professional hockey players on the rink at the tournament – and the common thread of “never [being] on an all-trans team, and all [going] through the struggle of ‘Where do I belong?’” 

Trans Hockey

“We as trans people fight either big battles or little battles every day,” Hutchinson said. “This was an opportunity to walk into a locker room, and we didn't have to explain anything to each other — we’re here, we are trans, this is great.”

Platt is a transgender woman who played with the Toronto Furies in the Canadian Women’s Hockey Players Association before it went out of business. She documents the “lonely experience” of being out and trans in professional sports.

“There are not a lot of out trans athletes playing professional sports, and there are few in professional women’s sports,” Platt said. “I think that’s partially due to the fact that there's a lot of negativity surrounding trans women participating in professional sports.”

“Growing up, I always played boys hockey and it didn't feel like a safe atmosphere for me,” Platt said. “I knew there was something different about me, but I always tried to be who I needed to be to fit in because I saw anyone who didn't quite fit in the male hockey atmosphere got made fun of pretty harshly, so I didn't want to be that person.” 

Conservative groups this month have reportedly test ran anti-transgender advertisements in key political races, specifically highlighting the issue of transgender inclusion in school sports.

Hutchinson said: “A lot of folks that I played with this weekend, we put years of our lives into practising our sports and then we came out as trans and found there’s not necessarily a space for us in that sport anymore. I think that what happened this weekend it was important on individual levels — for me personally, it was like a full honouring of my identity: I am a trans hockey player and I am on a trans team.”

Platt also hopes that the tournament will open more minds to the fact that transgender athletes work hard and compete just like cisgender athletes.

“We need more knowledge, more education, and for people to go into these things with an open mind and be willing to learn something that they might not be familiar with.”

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