This offseason has seen the Metropolitan Riveters make several notable signings and hirings thus far. There is one front-office hire, however, that has overshadowed the rest of them.
On April 11, The Ice Garden’s Dan Rice reported that Digit Murphy would be leaving the Toronto Six organization to join the Metropolitan Riveters as their President. On May 5, the Riveters confirmed Murphy’s hiring and additionally announced that Tori Charron would also be joining the organization as General Manager, thus ending their playing career with the Six.
Murphy’s seemingly imminent hiring was met with immediate backlash. Murphy lost the trust of many fans when it was discovered that she was listed as a supporter of the Women’s Sport Policy Working Group. The group claims that their mission is to “safeguard” women and girl’s sport while also including transgender athletes. Many of the proposed policies are explicitly exclusionary and steeped in transphobic rhetoric. A briefing book detailing the group’s views and goals can be found here. Murphy has since distanced herself from the group, explaining that she did not do her due diligence when she was asked if she would allow her name and photo to appear on the website for an organization that she believed to be about supporting women in sports.
In the days following the initial report that Murphy would be joining the Riveters, Anya Packer took to Twitter to announce that she declined to renew her contract as General Manager of the Riveters. Packer served as GM for a single season and left the organization proud of what the organization was able to achieve in that short period of time.
It comes with mixed emotions that I have declined renewing my contract as GM of the Riveters.— Anya Packer (She/Her) (@battaglinoa) April 13, 2022
I am VERY PROUD of what we accomplished in a short period of time, highlighted by:
- Improved quality of care for our athletes
- Lead DEI initiatives to #ChangeHockeyCulture
Shortly after Packer announced she was leaving, several other members of staff also made the choice to leave the Riveters. As Anne Tokarski reported for The IX, many cited Murphy’s impending arrival directly as the reason they were leaving. Former head of Riveters PR Jess Belmosto was among those walking away from the organization, along with numerous other volunteers, employees, and the entire stats department. As Tokarski noted, former Toronto Six staff members have expressed concern over the work environment created by Digit Murphy when she was with the team.
Murphy addressed her involvement with the Women’s Sport Policy Working Group on camera in the days following the official announcement of her hiring. In a video provided to Ian Kennedy of The Hockey News Murphy said, “Trans women are women and I love advocating for women. I have devoted my whole life to doing that, so I want to be your advocate and I apologize to you if I did anything to offend you.”
Murphy’s apology video took some well deserved criticism as many pointed out that an apology for offense caused is not a true apology for one’s actions.
Following the criticism, Riveters VP of Communications, Anthony Baldini responded to a number of tweets, many from members of the trans community, wherein he asserted that Murphy was not in fact transphobic.
You, telling me - a trans person who was actively hurt by decisions she made - that she was never anti-trans is hilarious. For someone who claims to be the expert on #trustissues you're losing every last bit of it from every trans person you know, or who reads your work.— robert ️ (@rs_molloy) May 8, 2022
Murphy then took to her own twitter account to apologize for her choice in language and made a commitment to improvement.
It is not the first time Murphy has addressed her involvement with the group. Murphy was joined by Johanna Boynton (at the time, the owner of the Toronto Six). In October of 2021, both Murphy and Johanna Boynton addressed Murphy’s former affiliation with the group in an interview with D.F. Pendrys. Murphy admitted that she didn’t do her homework on the group and offered an apology.
According to Murphy, her involvement with the WSPWG was a blunder, but that doesn’t negate the fact that her actions caused harm. It’s not up to anyone but trans fans to decide whether they forgive her for it. It was a full year before she made this apology, and in that time her continued presence in the PHF made trans fans feel unwelcome.
In hockey, if you trip someone, even if it’s an accident, you get a penalty. Intention is irrelevant, it is the action that matters.