By David “Dirk” Smith, M.Sc., SDL (He/Him)
Dropping the puck in Madison, Wisconsin over the third weekend of November 2022. The Team Trans Draft Tournament brought together six teams of 80 athletes, all of whom identify as transgender and/or nonbinary onto the ice for the first tournament of its kind.
The tournament taking place over the third weekend of November was no coincidence as it coincided with Transgender Awareness Week and culminated on Sunday, November 20th for Transgender Day of Remembrance. The goal of the tournament is “to help any trans-identified hockey player who wants to join us with the experience of belonging in an all trans locker room.”
The tournament was organized and hosted by Boston Pride Hockey’s Team Trans, who collaborated with the local Madison Gay Hockey Association, for the two day tournament that consisted of 12 hockey games played by 6 teams of entirely transgender/non-binary players.
View this post on Instagram
The Team Trans Draft Tournament included sponsorship by the National Hockey League that included LGBTQ+ pride swag bags and merch for the athletes. Most notably, a very visible show of allyship and support for both the Team Trans Draft Tournament and for the trans/intersex/nonbinary community as a whole through a series of tweets and social media posts.
The NHL is proud to support this past weekend’s Team Trans Draft Tournament in Middleton, Wisconsin. This was the first tournament comprised entirely of transgender and nonbinary players, with around 80 folks participating! #HockeyIsForEveryone #NHLPride pic.twitter.com/OfEoAVXtH5
— NHL (@NHL) November 22, 2022
As expected, the NHL’s social media posts about Team Trans and trans athletes drew a lot of controversy but also a lot of support for the professional hockey organization in visibly supporting the development of a trans/intersex/nonbinary inclusive sports. With the Team Trans Hockey twitter account following up to the controversy by calling out the hypocrisy of critics who both set out to exclude trans people from sports while criticizing the need for inclusive spots organizations such as Team Trans to exist.
There’s just something so funny about people who ask why we created our own space in hockey even as they tell us we don’t belong in hockey. pic.twitter.com/KAWw6FvNZB
— Team Trans Ice Hockey (@teamtranshockey) November 22, 2022
The tournament concluded on November 20th, Transgender Day of Remembrance which was only hours after the tragedy at Club Q in Colorado Springs in which five people, including several trans people were killed by a mass shooter who was quickly taken down by a trans woman and a straight ally, preventing further loss of life. The 80 athletes taking part in the tournament came together to recognize and honor the victims of the Club Q tragedy as well as the other victims of anti-trans violence over the last year.
By the end of the tournament, the athletes from both Team Trans’ Hockey Teams left the arena feeling a stronger sense of friendship and community, as well as empowerment and confidence that there is a place for them on the ice. While this may be the first all trans/nonbinary sport tournament, we know it will not be the last and we are excited to see it grow.