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NWHL officially announces policy for participation of transgender athletes

Harrison Browne broke barriers this season when he became the first transgender player in the NWHL, and the league has now introduced an official policy to support transgender athletes.
NWHL/Troy Parla

NWHL/Troy Parla

Harrison Browne made headlines as the NWHL campaign began by becoming the league’s first transgender player, and now the league has formally introduced its “Policy on Participation of Transgender Athletes,” which will be effective immediately.

The policy’s creation, which was done in concert with the You Can Play Project and with legal advisement from the National Center for Lesbian Rights, comes nearly two months after Browne came out as a transgendered athlete and began his historic season.

“This is an opportunity to move the conversation forward and accelerate social progress,” NWHL commissioner Dani Rylan said in a release. “The NWHL wants to be a reference point and resource for the next player or league that may feel uncertain or underprepared for their moment.”

According to the league, the goal of the policy is to recognize “all forms of gender expression” and to support “athletes choosing to express their gender beyond the binary of female and male,” as well as ensuring all athletes are playing on a balanced playing field, under equal rules.

As per the policy, players wishing to participate in the NWHL who are female at birth will be made ineligible to play if they choose to undergo “testosterone hormone therapy,” while those who have transitioned from male to female and identify as such will be eligible if their “total testosterone level in serum is within typical limits of women athletes” and remains in that range for the duration of their participation in the league. 

For the athletes who have transitioned from male to female, the league reserved the right to test the athletes to ensure their testosterone level in serum remains in the proper range for competition.

The policy isn’t only open to players entering the league, however, as “athletes currently participating in the NWHL who wish to make changes to their gender identity, name, pronoun, or other markers within the league should contact the NWHL to assist in making these changes on official publications and listings.”

“It comes down to respect,” You Can Play’s Chris Mosier said in a release. “When we respect a player’s identity, name, and pronoun, we are creating a space where athletes can show up as their authentic self, allowing them to be better players, teammates, and leaders.”

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