Story at a glance
- Team Trans, the first U.S. sports team made up entirely of trans athletes, reunited for the first time in two years over the weekend for a friendship series with an LGBTQ+ team in Wisconsin.
- Members of Team Trans said they previously played in other LGBTQ+ leagues but were often the team’s only trans member.
- Across the U.S., 10 states have passed laws which ban transgender youth from participating in sports teams that align with their gender identity. Professional organizations have recently issued more inclusive policies, but they have yet to be put into practice.
Two years ago, 16 hockey players in Boston formed Team Trans, the first U.S. sports team made up entirely of transgender athletes. They reunited over the weekend in Wisconsin to compete in their second hockey tournament, a weekend friendship series with the Madison Gay Hockey Association.
Team Trans drew the attention of other transgender and nonbinary hockey players following its inaugural game against Boston Pride Hockey, the LGBTQ+ team founded in the late 1980s, in 2019. Groups in the Madison area, where there’s already a burgeoning LGBTQ+ hockey community, were eager to bring them to Wisconsin.
Players on Team Trans said they knew they had stumbled upon something special the moment they got together. While many of them had previously played in LGBTQ+ leagues, they were often the only trans athletes on their teams, making it sometimes difficult or awkward to talk about their gender identity.
“It’s just casual and comfortable from the start. We’re not going to ask each other a bunch of awkward questions that other people might ask if they know we’re trans. Then, we talk about other things that would be completely off the table for conversations with mostly cis[gender] people,” Mason LeFebvre, one of Team Trans’ goalkeepers, told NBC News.
“It’s feeling like you don’t have to get over a bunch of awkward hurdles before you can just exist together in a space,” Avery Cordingley, who plays center and uses they/them pronouns, told NBC.
“Last night, I picked up a player at the airport at 11 o’clock, and we’re instantly chatting. We both have the experience of, like, ‘Are we going to be able to keep playing hockey if we choose to transition?’ And we didn’t even have to go into that. We’re just like, ‘Yeah, I’ve played hockey here and here and here,” they added.
Growing up, LeFebvre and Cordingley both played on girls hockey teams before beginning their transition. They said they often felt alienated from their teammates as they grappled with their gender identity.
At least 10 states have passed laws barring transgender youth from competing on school sports teams that align with their gender identity, claiming it ensures a level playing field, according to the Movement Advancement Project. These laws are most common in K-12 schools, but are sometimes present in colleges and universities as well.
Professional sports organizations have recently launched more inclusive policies. The International Olympic Committee last week introduced new guidelines for trans and intersex athletes, rolling back its controversial 2015 framework that required transgender women to take hormone-suppressing medications.
Last month, the Premier Hockey Federation, formerly the National Women’s Hockey League, issued a new policy providing a pathway for trans and nonbinary athletes to compete. That policy has yet to be put into practice.
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