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National Women’s Hockey League player goes out in style

Buffalo Beauts player ends career with a high note; plans move to Chicago

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Harrison Browne, gay news, Washington Blade

Harrison Browne with the National Women’s Hockey League’s Isobel Cup. (Photo courtesy the league)

Last October, Harrison Browne announced publicly that he is transgender. It was the beginning of his second season as a professional hockey player in the National Women’s Hockey League and with the announcement, he became the first openly transgender athlete in professional American team sports.

Roughly two months later, the league announced its policy on participation of transgender athletes which includes eligibility guidelines to ensure a fair and level playing field for all players.

While Browne had begun his transition socially, the medical transition would have to wait while he was under contract with the league.

Browne’s career started at 9 years old in Oakville, Ontario through a childhood friend who was part of a hockey family. He would go on to represent Team Canada in 2011 and start his collegiate career at Mercyhurst before transferring to the University of Maine for his remaining college eligibility. He signed on as left wing with the league team, the Buffalo Beauts, in 2015.

Two weeks ago, at age 23, Harrison Browne announced that he would retire from professional hockey at the end of this season.

The Washington Blade caught up with Browne on the eve of last Sunday’s league championships in which the Buffalo Beauts took on the Boston Pride.The night following the interview, the Buffalo Beauts knocked off the heavily favored Boston Pride, 3-2, to win the National Women’s Hockey League’s Isobel Cup. Browne can add champion to his list of accomplishments.

WASHINGTON BLADE: What emotions are you feeling heading into your final game as a professional hockey player?

HARRISON BROWNE: It hasn’t really hit me yet. I am just focused on playing my best game. It was great beating New York to make it to the championships and we have some unfinished business with Boston as we lost to them in the championship game last year. I’m sure the emotions will set in when that final buzzer goes off.

BLADE: Last month was the league All-Star Game in which players were selected through a fantasy draft and then over 20,000 votes were cast by fans to select four more players which included yourself. What did that mean to you?

BROWNE: That was huge. I scored two goals in the game with one on Brianne McLaughlin, the goaltender from my team. She hugged me afterwards. The support that has come from my teammates, the coaches, the league and the fans has been incredible. I had the third highest selling jersey this season and the response from social media has been mostly positive. I have had so many people tell me that I am brave and that I have helped them in their own lives.

BLADE: Were you happy with your stats on the ice this season?

BROWNE: This season was the first time I felt comfortable both on and off the ice. My stats were good but they didn’t really stand out because the League has gotten a lot deeper. The NWHL was stacked this year.

BLADE: Is your medical transition the main reason for your retirement from professional hockey?

BROWNE: When I signed in 2015 I always I figured I would play for two or three years, so transitioning wasn’t a factor in my decision. I was just living the dream of being a professional athlete for a few years after college. I don’t make enough money to justify staying any longer.

BLADE: You mentioned that you were comfortable for the first time this past year. How did that help set you up for your future?

BROWNE: I have been living in a “gender bubble” this past year and it has been both a blessing and a curse. People have tried to use the correct pronoun and I have been given a taste of what it is like to be gendered properly. I don’t know what to expect going forward.

BLADE: What are your next steps?

BROWNE: My lease is up on my apartment in Buffalo in April and I will be looking for work in Chicago which is where my girlfriend lives. My degree is in international business management but I would like to work in sports in some capacity. There will also be hormone therapy and surgery coming soon. I have been cruising on autopilot and postponing this for many years and I am ready to move forward with my true self.

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Gay men challenge Qatar death penalty for homosexuality

Country to host 2022 World Cup

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Dr. Nasser Mohamed (Photo courtesy of Instagram)

Gay men are blowing the whistle now, two months before the World Cup, demanding the host nation of Qatar change its anti-LGBTQ ways.

The Middle Eastern country where Islam is the state religion will welcome soccer players, coaches and fans from all around the planet, beginning Nov. 20, for matches that will pit nation against nation.

Qatar has promised to welcome LGBTQ foreigners, even as its own people are tortured and put to death for being who they are. 

On Monday, Qatar’s ambassador to Germany got an earful from one of those men at a human rights conference in Frankfurt, hosted by the German Football Association, according to a report by the Associated Press.

Fan representative Dario Minden spoke in English directly to Abdulla bin Mohammed bin Saud Al Thani, about who he is and who he loves, Minden told him to “abolish the death penalty” for homosexuality. 

“I’m a man and I love men. I do — please don’t be shocked — have sex with other men. This is normal,” Minden told Al Thani. “So, please get used to it, or stay out of football. Because the most important rule in football is, football is for everyone. It doesn’t matter if you’re lesbian, if you’re gay. It’s for everyone. For the boys. For the girls. And for everyone in between. 

“So, abolish the death penalty. Abolish all of the penalties regarding sexual and gender identity,” he said. 

Although organizers promised Al Thani an opportunity to respond, the Associated Press reports that portion of the conference was closed to the public and the news media and was not televised. 

Earlier, Al Thani reportedly complained to those assembled that the issue of human rights was a distraction from the World Cup, even though the event was titled, “Sport and Human Rights.” 

“We all care about human rights,” said Al Thani. “But I would have enjoyed (it) more if I saw some concentration not only on just one subject, but the enjoyment of football and the football effect on people around the world.” 

More than 5,000 miles away in San Francisco, a gay Qatari physician has organized a petition to tell the land of his birth: Love Is Not A Crime. 

Doctor Nasser Mohamed decided to come out in 2010 following a visit to the U.S., and spent his residency in Connecticut before moving to California in 2015. 

Mohamed wrote in an op-ed published by Outsports last month that he has spent the last decade caring for the LGBTQ community in outpatient settings and growing as an activist. 

“Being an LGBT person is a criminal offense in the legal system in Qatarm as is sex between two men. There are state-sponsored conversion-therapy practices, and LGBT-affirming psychotherapy is not offered.” He wrote how law enforcement uses media and chat rooms to find, jail and punish people for being LGBTQ. 

“Visibility of the local LGBT community in Qatar, and the exposure of their treatment, are absolutely essential,” Mohamed wrote. “I am doing my part by speaking up.”

Editor’s note: Find out about Mohamed’s petition by clicking here. He is also raising money through a GoFundMe account to provide him with funding for his activism as well as security and protection.

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Carl Nassib returns to Tampa

Former Las Vegas Raiders defensive end came out as gay in June 2021

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Carl Nassib (Screenshot courtesy of YouTube/KUVV Fox 5 in Las Vegas)

Carl Nassib, who made headlines in June 2021 when he became the NFL’s first out gay active player, reportedly has signed a one-year contract with his former team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 

The 29-year-old defensive end was released by the Las Vegas Raiders in March, and became a free agent. NFL sources said that was due to his contracted salary amount — $7.75 million — and not any reflection on his sexual orientation.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter broke the news with a tweet

When Nassib came out last summer, he announced he was donating $100,000 to the Trevor Project, and for Pride Month this year he made a new pledge to help LGBTQ youth. He promised to match donations to the Trevor Project, dollar for dollar, up to $100,000.

Will Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady welcome Nassib?

As Outsports reported, he’s never made any comments about playing with someone gay. Brady’s former New England Patriots teammate Ryan O’Callaghan recalled that before he came out in 2017, following his retirement, there was one time that he missed the team bus and Brady gave him a ride in his car to that day’s practice.

O’Callaghan told Outsports he believes Brady would have “absolutely” accepted him if he had come out at that time.

“Being married to a super model I’m sure he’s met a few gay people in his life,” said O’Callaghan.

Brady wed Brazilian fashion model Gisele Bündchen in 2009.

Legendary Boston sports columnist Steve Buckley of the Athletic came out as gay in 2011 while at the Boston Herald. He told Outsports that Brady has always been friendly and cooperative, even after Buckley came out.

This is the second time around at Raymond James Stadium for Nassib. He played for the Buccaneers for two seasons prior to joining the Raiders in 2020. His NFL career began in 2016 with the Cleveland Browns. 

As Jason Owens reported for Yahoo! Sports, Nassib was far more productive in Tampa as a part-time starter, recording 6.5 sacks in 2018 and six sacks in 2019. The NFL’s website shows he played just 242 defensive snaps and earned 1.5 sacks last season. 

In 86 games including 37 starts, Nassib’s recorded 22 career sacks, 164 tackles, 53 quarterback hits and four forced fumbles.

In addition to Brady, Nassib’s new teammates are Akiem Hicks and William Gholston at defensive end and outside linebackers Shaquil Barrett and Joe Tryon-Shoyinka. Given that the Buccaneers finished seventh in the NFL in sacks last season with 47, Nassib will be expected to improve Tampa Bay’s chances when their season begins on Sept. 11 in Dallas.

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Federal judge temporarily blocks anti-trans youth sports law in Indiana

The injunction requires that A.M., a 10 -year-old trans girl, must be allowed to rejoin her school’s all-girls softball team

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On Tuesday Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana issued an preliminary injunction that blocked an Indiana law that prevents trans youth from playing on sports teams that match their gender identity.

The injunction requires that A.M., a 10 -year-old trans girl, must be allowed to rejoin her school’s all-girls softball team while litigation continues.  

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana filed a lawsuit in April, on behalf of A.M., challenging House Enrolled Act 1041, which bans transgender girls from participating in school sports. 

Ken Falk, legal director at the ACLU of Indiana, issued the following statement: 

“When misinformation about biology and gender is used to bar transgender girls from school sports it amounts to the same form of sex discrimination that has long been prohibited under Title IX, a law that protects all students – including trans people – on the basis of sex.  

“We are pleased that Judge Magnus-Stinson has recognized this and required that A.M. be allowed to play on her school’s softball team.  

“If other students are being denied the right to join a sports team at their school due to their transgender status, we encourage them to contact the ACLU of Indiana immediately.” 

This past May, the Indiana Legislature had voted to overturn Republican Governor Eric Holcomb’s March veto of HB 1041, a measure that bans transgender girls from competing on girls’ K-12 sports teams in the state.

The vote to override the veto means that this law makes Indiana the 8th state to ban trans youth from playing sports in 2022 by legislative action — and the 16th in the country.

In his veto message sent to House Speaker Todd Huston’s office, Holcomb said the bill presumed a problem already existed that required the state to intervene and it implied the goals of consistency and fairness in girls’ sports were not being met.

“After thorough review, I find no evidence to support either claim even if I support the overall goal,” Holcomb wrote.

“Governor Holcomb was the second governor this year to uphold the dignity of transgender and nonbinary youth, and veto an attempt by lawmakers to write them out of existence. While those young people continue to face unrelenting political attacks, the Indiana legislature voted to override his act of courage and compassion, pushing these marginalized youth even further to the sidelines,” said Sam Ames, Director of Advocacy and Government Affairs at The Trevor Project.

“This bill claimed to solve a problem of ‘fairness’ in school sports in Indiana that didn’t exist, but its negative impacts on the mental health and well-being of trans and nonbinary youth — young people who already face disproportionate rates of bullying, depression, and suicide — are very real. To the young people in Indiana watching tonight: you are stronger than they know. We are here for you, we will fight for you, and we are not going anywhere.”

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