For Jessica Platt, the sports world has not always been the most inclusive environment, but that same community, however, played a decisive role in her decision to take courage and make public her gender identity.
The forward of the women’s hockey team, Toronto Furies, on 11th January on her Instagram profile, said she was transgender, becoming the first athlete to compete in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League. A choice, as it is easy to guess, matured slowly with sleepless nights and changes of decision, but thanked her friends, her family and Cwhl, the Canadian Women’s Hockey League, for their support: «I want people to know you don’t have to quit pursuing your dreams to be the person you were meant to be», we can read on her Instagram.
Platt, a defender, had only one person in the hockey world to identify with: Harrison Browne, of the National Women’s Hockey League (North America), who made the same decision in October 2016. A source of inspiration, an injection of trust: “Seeing how people reacted to Browne’s statements gave me a more concrete idea of how people could behave with me – says Jessica Platt -. We’ve sent a couple of messages back and forth and he’s been supportive of me. He’s a fantastic person».
Browne tweeted a very important and meaningful phrase, saying that Platt with this choice “was saving lives”. In the following days, support for her arrived from all sides, both on and off the ice, but above all the hockey world never thought of giving it away: «I think I’m very lucky to be able to tell my story: the hockey world has been exceptional, it’s a very special community where everyone believes that if you can play, you have the right to play».
A welcoming atmosphere can be hard to find, especially in team sports: «Inclusion has always been an important force in our league and with the Platt announcement, this has been reaffirmed», said Brenda Andress, commissioner Cwhl, in a note. The Canadian women’s league has worked with You Can Play, an LGBTQ inclusion organization, earlier this season to update its policy on the participation of transgender athletes in order to be in line with the policies of the International Olympic Committee and the recommendations of the Canadian Federation. In order to participate in the Cwhl, all women – cisgender and transgender – must, in fact, have hormonal levels of a “typical female athlete”.
Being at the center of public attention, Platt has the opportunity to reach more people than if she went out in private: «People are telling me that I am helping them, I have concrete evidence that I am doing good. I know it’s not easy for many, the coming out process is different from person to person, but my message is not to be afraid of being yourself, there is potential to achieve happiness, I never gave up and all this is absolutely incredible for me right now».