The NWHL’s Buffalo Beauts have made history with rising star, twenty-three-year-old Harrison Browne, who publicly came out as a Transman, after discussing his gender identity with his coaches at the University of Maine, where he graduated in 2014. Originally from Canada, he was recruited on a Division I hockey on scholarship.
“I identify as a man,” Browne said in an interview in New York City, before he left for a flight to make practice in western New York. “My family is starting to come to grips with it, now it’s my time to be known as who I am, to be authentic and to hear my name said right when I get a point, or see my name on a website.”
He felt that sense of authenticity during that night’s game against the Boston Pride, where he scored his team’s only point.
In an interview with ESPN, Browne said: “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,” he said. “Off the ice, I felt more comfortable having my friends call me what I wanted to be called, referring to me with the pronouns that I wanted. If anything, my product on the ice was let loose and I could be myself.”
His original plans to begin to medically transition have been postponed while he explores what it’s like to be one of the pioneers in the National Women’s Hockey League which was formed in 2015. NWHL Commissioner Dani Rylan, who has expressed her support for Browne, is working with the league to craft a transgender-inclusive policy.
“We’re here to support him,” Rylan told ESPN. “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.”
In an interview with the Associated Press, Beauts coach and former NHL player, Ric Seiling, emphasized that Browne is the same player he’s always been.
“This is Harrison’s decision and I support whatever they decide…The team has had no reaction. It’s still the same person that walks into that dressing room every day. It’s still the same person that puts on his skates the same way. There’s no difference.”
Browne, who also goes by the nickname Brownie, has not yet changed his legal name for visa purposes. Browne reports, “not closing the door” to the possibility of trying out for the NHL, depending on how his body transitions.
“I’m still the same player, I’m still playing in the body that I did last year, I’m still the same exact person. I’m just a different name and different pronouns, that’s it. I’m still Brownie.”
May the fourth be with you. pic.twitter.com/i956UOs4zl
— Harrison Browne (@Hbrowne24) May 4, 2016