Harrison Browne, the two-time Isobel Cup Champion and first openly transgender athlete in professional team sports, announced his retirement from professional hockey today. Browne came out of retirement to play in the 2017-18 season so he could continue to be a role model for transgender youth as a professional athlete. But it appears that this time, he’s hanging up his skates for good.
Dani Rylan, the NWHL’s commissioner, issued the following statement on Browne’s retirement in the league’s press release:
“Harrison is a champion for transgender rights and retires as an Isobel Cup champion hockey player. He is going to be missed on the ice, but he has left quite a legacy from his three years in our league. We want to thank Brownie for everything he has done in the game and wish him the best in the road ahead.”
An excerpt from Browne’s statement from the same press release can be read below:
... I have decided that the 2017-18 season was my final year playing women’s hockey. I feel that I have made my mark as much as I can in the NWHL and it is time for me to embark on a new journey.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who made my time in the NWHL what it was.
I am so proud to have stood as the first transgender athlete in professional hockey and could have never done that without the support of the NWHL, so thank you to everyone who made being my authentic self in hockey a reality. A special shout out to Dani Rylan – our commissioner for never skipping a beat in making sure one of her players could play as himself; to Chris Botta for helping me navigate the press aspect of my decision; and to Ric Seiling for always treating me with respect and advocating for me.
Thank you to the Buffalo Beauts organization for giving me a chance to make my professional hockey dreams come true. I will always cherish my time in Buffalo and as a Beaut. To all my past teammates, coaches, staff and fans, thank you from the bottom of my heart for making this Canadian feel at home across the pond.
Thank you to the Metropolitan Riveters organization for welcoming me with open arms. I don’t think there is a team out there with the culture and passion that you instilled in me. Chad Wiseman: thank you for allowing me to be part of this team. You crafted a special group and I am so honored to have been part of it. Team: thank you for always having my back, using the proper pronouns, and making me feel like a Riveter as soon as I stepped foot into that locker room. Staff: thank you for always allowing me to play my best and taking care of the little things that often go unappreciated. You are the glue that keeps a team together.
Thank you to all the fans out there who have shown me support. I can’t thank you enough for all that you have done for me and the LGBTQ community as a whole. You have shown anyone struggling to be themselves that they don’t have to be afraid…that there will always be people out there who will support you and love you no matter what. Thank you for allowing me to feel comfortable in my own skin and cheering me on as Harrison.
And last but certainly not least, thank you to my parents for sacrificing time and money to help me train and put hockey first. I wouldn’t be where I am today without all the early morning drives to practice, the world-class equipment and trainers, the road trips to tournaments, and countless other little things that you both have done for me throughout my 16-year career. Thank you, Mom and Dad for getting me to where I am today. I couldn’t have done it without you. And to my sister, Rachel, for always supporting me in all I do.
Browne finishes his NWHL career with two Isobel Cup victories — one with the Buffalo Beauts in 2017 and one with the Metropolitan Riveters in 2018 — and 27 points in 51 regular season games. More importantly, he blazed a trail both on and off the ice for transgender athletes everywhere.
Browne’s authenticity, sincerity, and relentless work ethic made him the league’s most popular player. He retires as a true NWHL, women’s hockey, and LGBTQ icon. Browne’s time on the ice may have come to an end, but his legacy will endure for generations.