Harrison Browne, first professional transgender athlete

RYAN HERRING, Sports Columnist

“I identify as a man […] My family is starting to come to grips with it, now it’s 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.”

This is a proud statement from professional sports’ first transgender athlete, Harrison Browne. 

Last Friday, Browne announced that he is the first openly transgender player in American professional team sports.

The year prior, he helped his pro hockey team, the Buffalo Beauts, get to the championship series in the NWHL. After remaining with his team in the offseason, Browne looks forward to another good year. 

The NWHL commissioner, Dani Rylan, is completely supportive of Browne and the idea of transgender athletes.

He claims the league is now working on a policy for these athletes and that the they are accepting of a transgender man on a team roster. Browne comes from the junior circuit out of Canada and played college hockey at the University of Maine.

It was there where Browne first identified himself privately to coaches as transgender. He had this to say about what it was like for him to be competing in a women’s league, “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.”

Browne has not had sexual reconstruction surgery, he just had his name changed from Hailey to Harrison.  He originally planned to have the medical transition after college graduation, but the creation of the NWHL encouraged him to put those plans on hold a little longer so he could continue to play.

“I’m still the same player, I’m still playing in the body that I did last year,” Harrison explained.

“I’m still the same exact person. I’m just a different name and different pronouns, that’s it. I’m still Brownie.”

After concluding his NWHL career, Harrison plans to go through with the medical transition.