Harrison Browne, He Shoots, He Scores

Harrison Browne

Harrison Browne makes history as the first transgender athlete to play for an American professional sports team.

Harrison Browne made history earlier this month when he became the first transgender athlete to play for an American professional sports team.

Browne plays hockey for the Buffalo Beauts of the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL). Before the start of the 2016, he came out as transgender to his teammates, the league and, essentially, the world. EspnW.com first broke the story, and Browne was ultimately thrust into the spotlight. A variety of media outlets have since picked up the story, including the New York Times. And Browne continues to take the attention in stride. For a 23-year-old in the middle of transitioning, that takes incredible courage.

“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,” Browne told espnW.com before the first hockey game of the season.

During the game, Browne not only scored a goal for the Beauts, he was also able to hear his name called out on the loud speaker. “I’ve never heard a crowd cheer that loud for me in any other game I’ve participated in,” he said via YouTube. “I just felt this feeling of warmth come over me. The way that [the crowd] cheered, they were just saying, ‘Brownie, we’re with you and we support you. And we accept you.’ Having the proper pronouns used and hearing my name was just unreal.”

Browne had originally planned to transition fully after graduating from the University of Maine but held off after getting the opportunity to play in the NWHL. Now, his transition is currently on hold until after his professional hockey career is over.

“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,” he added during his interview with espnW.com.“I’m just a different name and different pronouns, that’s it. I’m still Brownie.”

For more on Browne and his personal perspective, visit his YouTube channel. He recently posted a video about the media attention, how to get in touch with him via social media, and what it felt like to play his first professional hockey game as his authentic self.