Canadian Women’s Hockey League Toronto Furies player, Jessica Platt, came out as transgender this past week. Platt said “I hope that I can inspire others to live their lives true to who they are and to never give up on their dreams.”
Platt is the second publicly out transgender professional ice hockey player. Harrison Browne who plays for the Metropolitan Riveters of the National Women’s Hockey League, came out last year as a transgender man. Both received tremendous support and guidance from the You Can Play organization, teammates and their respective leagues.
The CWHL published an article on their website and when tweeting the article out, they couldn’t help but slight the NWHL when stating that Platt is the “first openly transgender athlete to compete in the world’s most premiere women’s hockey league.”
This is a clear jab at the NWHL, their American counterpart. By calling Platt the first transgender athlete in a women’s hockey league, not only are they erasing Harrison Browne’s remarkable courage to come out and what it meant to many, but they are also using Platt’s announcement as a form of an insult to the NWHL. The tweet fails to even mention Platt by name or her Twitter handle, making her coming out even more less impactful.
Maybe the tweet isn’t as ill conceived as many think, but they could have easily said something like “Today, we provide support to Jessica Platt, the first openly transgender athlete to compete in the CWHL.” The hostility between the two leagues that are essentially striving for the same goal — to be a professional women’s hockey league that’s inclusive, progressive, and supportive — is inane and especially ridiculous at a time like this.
For a while now many have called for both leagues to merge into one. It’s only logical for there to be one women’s hockey league instead of asking fans to pick and chose between two entirely separate leagues. The separation also hurts both leagues ability to get major sponsors and broadcasting rights. If both leagues united, there would be a total of 11 teams and a whole slew of international stars splattered across both countries. Currently, there seems to be no real dialogue between the leagues. Personality and legal issues are reasons given as to why they can’t seem to merge.
Hayley Wickenheiser, former Canadian women’s ice hockey player said it best, “We can’t have two pro leagues trying to exist. That’s not a USA Hockey or Hockey Canada problem. That’s the two leagues’ issue. If they could sit down and come to a dialogue, we’d see professional women’s hockey come quickly. I see elite amateur hockey because the best in world don’t play in one league.”
Jessica Platt was brave to come out and luckily she’s had support from many around her. Her courage and what she means to the LGTBQ community shouldn’t be used as a move in a chess game or a snub against the NWHL.