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My brother

Harrison Browne is the first openly trans athlete in pro hockey. Rachel Browne is a VICE News reporter. We were with the siblings for an intimate reunion.

My brother: pro hockey’s first transgender player

 

“This is my brother.”

I remember when I saw Rachel Browne, a brilliant young journalist with us, tweet that last year, with a link to a story about Harrison Browne — the first openly transgender player on a pro hockey team.

It represented an intersection that journalism often doesn’t acknowledge: when the deeply personal entwines with a moment of important public significance.

Rachel chose to embrace that space with her brother, and use it as a way to explore the vulnerability and relief that comes with coming out.

Harrison is a star player for the Buffalo Beauts, in the nascent National Women’s Hockey League. He grew up as Hailey in Oakville, an affluent Toronto suburb, the youngest of two children in a somewhat conservative family. His decision to step out publicly as trans mattered in the binary world of sports. “I wanted to take the mask off,” he told VICE Sports.

At VICE News we thought long and hard about how to approach his story and bring something meaningful to the conversation. Rachel’s unique perspective, as Harrison’s sister, was something we wanted to draw on, not ignore.  

Because when you strip away those big considerations — about what this means for sport, and for others navigating questions of gender — this is a story about connecting. Two siblings, reaching out, understanding and supporting each other.

“The word transgender never came up” at home, Rachel says in the documentary.

Telling stories like this may help change that.

Natalie Alcoba is the managing editor of VICE News Canada. 

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