Friday October 7th, 2016

National Women's Hockey League player Harrison Browne has come out as the first openly transgender athlete in American professional sports. 

Browne, 23, played his first season with the Buffalo Beauts last season, but this season will be his first being open about his gender identification.

"I identify as a man," Browne said, according ESPNW. "My family is starting to come to grips with it, now 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 first came out privately to his coaches while playing hockey at Maine, but decided to delay his medical transition when the NWHL was formed in 2014 to allow him to play professionally. He decided to come out this year to allow himself to feel more comfortable on and off the ice.

"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," Browne said. "I'm just a different name and different pronouns, that's it. I'm still Brownie."

Browne's coming out has prompted the league to begin developing a policy for inclusion of transgender players, NWHL commissioner Dani Rylan said.

"At the end of the day, Harrison is the same player he was last year," Rylan said. "We're here to support him. It's really not a big deal when you look at it, we're respecting his name, the pronouns and his request to be his authentic self."

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