by Aidan Wayne
American professional team sports has been changing over the last few years. Standing behind causes such as You Can Play Project (their stance is that athletes should be judged on talent, heart and work ethic, not sexual orientation and/or gender identity), they've become a little bit more open and a little bit more welcoming to LGBTQ athletes.
Now things have taken yet another step for the better.
Harrison Browne, a 23-year-old forward who plays for the NWHL's Buffalo Beauts, is the first openly transgender player in American professional team sports, and, hopefully, will only be the first athlete who feels comfortable and safe enough to come out in a professional sports environment.
Harrison "Brownie" Browne had originally planned to medically transition after completing his college career at the University of Maine, but put that on hold in the spring of 2015, with the creation of the NWHL.
Browne had identified privately as transgender to coaches and friends before officially coming out in the league — a fact that, he says, made him a better player.
"I'm still the same player," Browne said in an interview with ESPN. "I'm still playing in the body that I did last year, I'm still the same exact person. I'm just a different name and different pronouns, that's it. I'm still Brownie."