Digit Murphy, the new president of the Premier Hockey Federation’s Metropolitan Riveters, has addressed claims of transphobia.
The ongoing criticism of Murphy is tied to her involvement with the Women’s Sport Policy Working Group in 2021, whose mission statement claimed they “reject both the effort to exclude trans girls and trans women from girls’ and women’s sport and the effort to disadvantage biological females by forcing them to compete against athletes with male sex-linked physical advantages.”
The group went on to claim “Just one or two trans girls who are decent athletes will displace a lot of females."
Murphy, who was president of the PHF’s Toronto Six at the time, removed herself from the group in May of 2021 after drawing heavy criticism from transgender activists, women’s rights groups, and fans.
Almost a year later, Murphy is now the president of the PHF’s Metropolitan Riveters. Following the recent announcement of her hiring however, detractors again questioned Murphy’s ethics and beliefs related to transgender people.
In response, Murphy chose to explicitly address her involvement in the Women’s Sport Policy Working Group and to apologize to the trans community.
“I’m here to apologize to the trans community. When I signed on with the Women’s Working Group, I didn’t do my homework, and I messed up,” Murphy said in the video, which was provided to The Hockey News. “Trans women are women and I love advocating for women, I have devoted my whole life to doing that, so I want to be your advocate and I apologize to you if I did anything to offend you.”
It is the first time Murphy has apologized on camera for her role with the Women’s Sport Policy Working Group, although it is not the first time Murphy has attempted to respond to calls questioning her position as an ally for the trans community. In a 2021 interview with The Ice Garden, Murphy was asked if she would welcome transgender and non-binary people as members of her staff. “I’m definitely open to having anyone on my staff or my team,” Murphy told The Ice Garden. “Anyone. Anyone. It doesn’t matter — gay, straight, trans, non-binary, you’re welcome on my staff. Now, are you a great player? That is how I’m going to choose the talent on my team. Are you a great person for the job? But of course, I’m open to that… we’ve always been welcoming to the trans community.”
With the Toronto Six, Murphy held true to this statement by hiring transgender staff members to join the organization. Alison Ashdown, a transgender woman and Toronto-born hockey player, tried out for the Toronto Six, but when a roster spot was not offered, Murphy requested Ashdown join the organization as a writer.
“I was privileged to share my voice as a writer for the Toronto Six last year at [Murphy’s] request,” Ashdown said in a statement sent to The Hockey News. “While I have only known Digit since last fall, she has been nothing but supportive, kind, and energetic towards me. As a trans woman, I have experienced my fair share of transphobic people in this world, but Digit Murphy is not one of them.”
Ashdown was aware of Murphy’s past affiliation with the Women’s Sports Policy Working Group and the transphobic statements and beliefs the organization was founded on, but has not witnessed the beliefs tied to that affiliation in action from Murphy.
“Digit’s past affiliation with Women’s Sports Policy Working Group ended before I met her. But that’s the keyword, “ended.” And to solely qualify an impression of Digit based on her past while disregarding her growth and who she is today, is akin to disregarding a person’s transition and gender identity. Unjust.”
Still, Murphy remains a polarizing figure in women’s hockey. When news broke that she would be taking over as the president of the Metropolitan Riveters, several staff members from the organization resigned or chose not to return. The Riveters were a leader in numerous diversity, inclusion, and equity initiatives within the PHF including pride events, and the launch of their “Black Rosie” jersey.
While Murphy claims to be learning and changing, others believe her past actions cannot be ignored.
“It made me sick even thinking of working under her knowing her beliefs and how she has treated employees in the past,” former head of Riveters PR Jess Belmosto told The IX in an interview following the hiring of Murphy by the Riveters. “I knew in my heart I couldn’t stick around. I can’t change her and never will.” Belmosto was one of the Metropolitan staffers to leave the organization in the days following Murphy’s hire.
Murphy, however, hopes to show detractors through her actions, not words, that she is capable of creating an inclusive culture with the Riveters and women’s hockey overall.
“We built the Toronto Six an education, empowerment, and inclusion platform, and at the Riveters we’re going to do the same,” Murphy said in her statement. “We want to have everyone playing hockey, we want to have everyone cheering for the Rivs, we want to have everyone having an opportunity to play the sport that they love.”
When the puck drops on the 2022-2023 PHF season, the validity of Digit Murphy’s words, and promised actions will be under the watchful eye of the entire hockey world.