The NWHL is the only professional sports league in North America with an openly transgender player, but it has not yet had a transgender policy.
But the architects of the league’s guidelines for transgender players say that the league is ready to take a leading position.
“This is really a groundbreaking policy in professional sports, and specifically in women’s professional sports,” Chris Mosier, vice president for program development and community relations for You Can Play, an organization that works to combat discrimination against athletes because of sexual orientation or gender identity, told The New York Times. You Can Play and the National Center for Lesbian Rights were consultants for the NWHL guidelines.
“Being a women’s league, they want to make sure their players are protected,” Mosier — a professional triathlete and transgender man who competed for the United States national team at the sprint duathlon world championships this summer — added. “This is a really unique opportunity for them on taking the lead that others can look to as one to replicate.”
According to The Times, the NWHL is unveiling its transgender policy at the end of the year.Mosier added that the International Olympic Committee’s revamped guidelines — where the IOC made it less onerous for transgender athletes to compete at the Olympics — served as a template for the NWHL’s policies.
“It’s a unique opportunity to continue to move the conversation forward and accelerate that social progress and to be that benchmark, and to remain approachable and available for these discussions,” NWHL commissioner Dani Rylan told The Times.
Buffalo Beauts forward Harrison Browne came out on Oct. 7 as a transgender man.
— Harrison Browne (@Hbrowne24) December 27, 2016
Rylan told The Times that Browne’s announcement nudged the lead in this direction. The guidelines are three pages long, with a stated purpose of “supporting athletes choosing to express their gender beyond the binary of female and male.”