Harrison Browne retiring after breaking hockey transgender barrier

Last October, Harrison Browne made history.

A forward for the Buffalo Beauts, he announced he is transgender, and in the process became the first athlete in professional team sports to do so as an active player.

“In my private life I’ve been known as ‘he’ and ‘Harrison.’ It just came to a point where I was kind of like, well, I have this…status, and I was thinking I was kind of living a little bit of a lie,” he told Yahoo Sports. “I have a mask on to the public. I just thought it was time to align those two.”

At the time, there were questions about when Browne would undergo a medical transition, and whether it would happen while playing professional hockey. It’s something Browne contemplated, going back to his time playing in the NCAA, and decided to put off.

“I wouldn’t be able to play. It’s a performance enhancer, testosterone. I played in college and NCAA rules were that I couldn’t have any [added] testosterone in my body. I just assumed the NWHL would have the same kind of thing. It’s always been that after I finish hockey then I’ll begin my physical transition,” he said.

According to the New York Times, Browne is finished with pro hockey, and plans to “fly under the radar in my everyday life.”

From the Times:

Browne plans to retire at the end of the season to undergo a physical transition, starting with surgery in Florida in June to create a chest with male contours, followed by hormone therapy. He then plans to join his girlfriend in Chicago, where she is a social worker, and look for a new career.

“It’s going to be so validating to look into the mirror and see the person that I see inside,” Browne said.

His final game as a professional hockey player could come Friday when the Beauts, seeded third in the opening round of the N.W.H.L. playoffs, face the second-seeded New York Riveters, in Newark. The winner advances to the league championship game Sunday in Lowell, Mass.

Browne said the financial issues facing the NWHL and the draining of talent from the League due to the 2018 Winter Olympics next season were not factors in his decision.

He leaves a lasting legacy on pro hockey, as the NWHL became the first pro league in North America to establish a policy on transgender athletes. “The NWHL recognizes all forms of gender expression,” the league said in a press release. “Therefore, the NWHL supports athletes choosing to express their gender beyond the binary of female and male.”

Hopefully we haven’t seen the last of Harrison Browne as a progressive influence on sports.

Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.