Cambridge, Mass. – Brynn Toohey She ran up and down the ice on the Simoni ice rink and playfully pushed a golf ball back and forth with her club. "I want to score a few goals," she said.
Toohey, 29, had been playing hockey since she was able to walk. Her grandmother used to steal traffic cones from the street so Toohey could make drills. But after college, she stepped down from sports and tried to find out who she was. She drank too much. Public, She still lived as a man,
"I tried to drink it away," said Toohey. "Oh yes, I will take care of it later."
About a year ago, she decided she couldn't live like this anymore. On New Year's Eve, she appeared as a transgender woman for the first time.
Two months ago For the first time in seven years, she picked up a hockey stick again.
"If I didn't have an outlet, the transition would be a bit too much for me," she said. "Now I'm dealing with it. I'm having fun. I find my place in the world."
Toohey is a striker for Team Trans, a group of transgender and non-binary hockey players. They met for the first time in Cambridge last Friday for training. Less than 24 hours later, they returned to the ice for the first of two games against Boston Pride L.G.B.T..Q, Hockey team that has been around since the early 1990s.
Team Trans is believed to be the first transgender sports team in the United States. There is at least one other in the world – a transgender men's soccer team in Brazil.
Trans women, transfer men and non-binary people are welcome in the team, regardless of where they are in their transition. Some have undergone hormone treatment and surgery. Most, but not all, have come out publicly. You still use your female birth name at work,
This one weekend could not change the world outside the Simoni ice rink, nor would it make it easier for Team Trans members to be received by teams near their home and to take part in competitions on a regular basis. But for two games, they could clearly feel accepted without questioning that they were one of them.
They didn't have to explain themselves. They didn't have to worry about which locker room to use, which is often a source of argument. They all used the same thing.
"Nothing matters as soon as you put the shirt on," he said Alexander LeFebvre, 25, the goalkeeper of Team Trans. "You're just a hockey player."
A plan has been hatched.
The team's plans took shape in a bar in Chelsea seven months ago section from Manhattan. Boston Pride was visiting for a game with the New York City Gay Hockey Associationand then the players went out for a drink. Greg SargentAidan Cleary, the president of Boston Pride, noticed a member of the New York team sitting alone in a corner.
The two talked, and Cleary told him about a Facebook group to which he belonged – "all transhockey players". The members tried to put together their own team, Cleary explained. Many are on L.G.B.T.Q. Teams, but most have never had a transgender teammate. Even when they played with other athletes who are often treated as outsiders, they felt isolated.
As a gay man, Sargent understood what Cleary and his Facebook group were looking for. He offered help to Boston Prides. "It took me ages to find this atmosphere and when I did it was so amazing," he said.
“These are tiny bodies; They are the same, ”she said. "This is just an unnecessary separation."
Hockey is the rare team sport in which there were openly transgender professional players, albeit very few. Team Trans has the two best-known players: Harrison Browne, who played in the National Women’s Hockey League in 2016, and Jessica Platt, who announced that she was a transgender in 2018, and in the now-defunct Canadian Women’s Hockey League League played. Both are celebrities in the transgender community.
Cleary said that knowledge of Browne and Platt means a lot to him and other transgender players. "We found that we are not isolated," he said.
The players meet for the first time.
Thirteen of the 16 team trans players I had to travel to the Boston area, some from San Francisco and Wisconsin. They arrived for their only training session on Friday evening and dragged oversized gear bags. Each player received a pink, white and blue jersey – the colors of the transgender flag – and matching socks. Boston Pride paid for the ice age and uniforms.
It was the first time that Team Trans was in one place. Many had been through a lot. Platt had fought back against critics Who said a transgender woman had an unfair physical advantage in a women's league? They didn't care that she had been out of the game for years and changed medically before she came back.
"It's really important to get trans athletes involved in the conversation," said Platt about Team Trans, "because there's a lot of hatred about trans women and sports."
She played against some of the best players in the world, but was still nervous over the weekend. "You never know what it will be like to meet new people," she said.
While waiting together for their turn on the ice, the players were quiet. When the doors opened, Platt ran out first.
For a while the only sound was the sound of pucks slapping the boards and ice skates cutting through the ice.
They only had 50 minutes to practice before their first game on Saturday, and it proved to be more difficult than expected to play as a team. Even something as basic as dividing it into two exercise groups for scrimmaging was a problem.
They were all qualified differently. Some were professionals, others couldn't skate backwards.
Without training jerseys, the two teams could not differ. About 30 minutes later, someone had the idea that half the team should turn their jerseys over.
Lachen filled the arena for the first time. The next exercise went smoothly. The ice was broken.
"I would have felt much less alone."
Browne missed training on Friday night. He went to Sargent's house for a team lunch on Saturday and suddenly everything stopped.
For most of them, Harrison Browne was larger than life.
"He was like" I'm Harrison, "said Jack Henderson, 28th." I was like, "I know who you are. I follow you on Tumblr, "
"Based on his story and experience," added Henderson, "it was really cool to see something that reflects my experience."
In 2017, when Browne was ready to undergo hormone treatment and surgery, he had to stop playing in a professional ice hockey league for women. He rarely steps on the ice more than he wants to start a new career as an actor, but he said he couldn't miss the chance to be part of Team Trans.
"When I was growing up, I would have seen someone playing hockey or I would have seen a trans athlete doing sports and I would have felt much less alone than him," said Browne. "The fact that people say I helped them I'm glad I could be someone I needed then. "
During lunch, a group stood in the kitchen eating sandwiches and telling stories about their transitions. Platt asked others how physical changes affect their ice hockey.
Some discussed the problems of playing in other teams, even if they were L.G.B.T.Q. William Frahm-Gilles said another player showed him to his teammates before he was ready.
"It is not a big deal for me to identify myself as a transsexual, but I am not operating it as a big part of my life," said Frahm-Gilles. "It took control of who knew and who didn't."
Boston Pride players had a pregame meeting where Henderson – one of three Team Trans members who also play for Boston Pride – reviewed a few tips and tricks for interacting with Team Trans. Don't ask for previous names. Always ask for the pronoun to use and if in doubt only use the person's name. In the end, it all boiled down to one thing: be respectful.
Cheering means more.
The games were held on a public ice rink in a mall. The crowd was modest, a total of several dozen people. Family, friends, fans of Browne and Platt and a few locals.
Team Trans's pre-game jubilation consisted of the three words doctors use to characterize a person who is prepared for a change: Persistent! Consequent! They cried.
Team Trans lost both games, but they were closer than expected. Pride won 4-3 on Saturday and 8-3 on Sunday.
After the last buzzer, the teams lined up to shake hands. The Boston Pride players tapped the sticks in honor of the ice. Spectators stamped their feet on the stands.
Many of the players stayed on the ice until the Zamboni driver nudged them. Team Trans expects to play again, although nothing is planned.
A few rows behind the bench was a transgender boy from the Boston area playing youth hockey. His mother asked not to identify any of them by name because the children in his school selected him.
When the team went off the ice, she and her son were waited at the exit. One of the players handed the boy a signed puck and promised to mail a jersey. They said they were looking forward to the day he would join Team Trans.
"That would be so cool," said the boy.