How One Transgender Hockey Player Made A Lasting Impact On His League

“It will just be me.”

Having come out as a transgender man last October, Harrison Browne is retiring from the National Women's Hockey League at the end of this season. But, before leaving the sport to live a quieter life, Browne — who goes by Brownie — is leaving behind some important changes.

Hockey has been a sanctuary for Browne since his big announcement but, soon enough, he'll be trading that in for something new. The 23-year-old will be undergoing a physical transition, which includes establishing a more male-defined chest and subsequent hormone therapy. After that, Browne will join his social worker girlfriend in Chicago.

"It's going to be so validating to look into the mirror and see the person that I see inside," the Buffalo Beauts forward told The New York Times, referring to this new existence as being able to "fly under the radar in my everyday life."

Though Browne will be leaving the NWHL, that doesn't mean that he hasn't influenced the organization in a big way. After coming out, the league supported him by changing his name on its website and created a transgender policy. To create the policy, the league enlisted the You Can Play Project, a group that ensures athletes don't face discrimination over sexual orientation or gender identity.

"Harrison is leaving quite a legacy from his two years in our league," Dani Rylan, the league's commissioner, told the NWHL's official website. "He is a pioneer for transgender rights and has been a great hockey player at every level of the game. He is going to be missed, but it's gratifying to know that Brownie is remaining a part of the NWHL family."

Though he's going out on top of his game — having been voted into February's All-Star Game in which he scored two goals, among other achievements — Browne will still be involved with the NWHL as an advisor on inclusion while pursuing a sports business career. Plus, he's looking forward to retreating from the spotlight and having his outside reflect his inside.

"I cannot wait until I don't have to use the cheat sheet anymore, until people just look at me and then see me for what I am, without me having to say anything, without having to read a story," Browne said. "It will just be me."