Lacing Up the Skates Again
A personal story by Laura Crossley.
I thought my hockey career was over when I (formally) came out as Transgender in 2018. I hadn’t played in years. Who would I now play for? I had played for a men’s team, while on feminizing hormones and nobody could tell I was secretly in transition starting in 2015. That’s what happens when you play with guys you have grown up with all your life.
So, when we decided to leave Alberta in late 2018 and head back home to BC, I knew I had to create a supportive community and sooner than later if possible.
After doing some homework, I posted on a few hockey sites under my female alias. I had not done the name change but knew it would be after the 3-month waiting period upon arrival in BC. I didn’t immediately want to scare away any potential teams by posting as Grant. As a result, I received a couple of emails in response.
I have always been open about being transgender. I do this with the esthetician, hair salon, laser hair removal, spot, makeup artist, doctor, dentist, etc. I have been criticized for this but, at the same time, people are allowed to make a living and not deal with people they may not like.
Back to hockey. I wrote an email explaining my situation on hormones, not fully transitioned yet, that I have played in the past etc. I didn’t mention, I am overweight but, I am not perfect.
Surprisingly, I got some replies back saying this would be totally fine. I wanted to ask again, and I think I did, but I wanted to make sure that it was a team decision. Even if one individual did not feel comfortable, then I would get that and respect it. They have that right, and really, they do have more of a right to be there than me. Maybe I can be a little pragmatic but that’s how I feel.
I would rather be respectful in this manner because I know it’s a delicate issue.
After some back and forth, I got an email and phone call offering me one last opportunity. In the midst of a move, I wasn’t really thinking about hockey, but I took the opportunity. Now I was scared!
Waiting for that first meeting of the team was terrifying, filled with anxiety, but it went pretty well I think. Then a week later my first actual game. What dressing room do I use? The response was, “the same one as the rest of the team”. Okay, a little scary. I tried to position myself in a corner, somewhere away from everybody out of respect. I tried to get dressed and keep a low profile. It was wonderful but at the same time, hard.
Every game I am still full of anxiety, walking into that dressing room. I start thinking about comments that pop up during the game. And of course, I am active on social media and so I see how there are groups that specifically do not want transgender people on women’s sports teams.
Not only, do I have my own thoughts and anxiety, now I let others creep in and it’s incredibly hard. I have thought about quitting because maybe I am that fraud and imposter and invading a space?
Ultimately, the team is amazing and the players have been awesome. They’ve been so supportive and caring, but it is different than a men’s team, that’s for sure. The dressing room talk is a lot more subtle, the game is different, and the environment is still unfamiliar.
It certainly hasn’t been easy, but it’s worth it in the end.