As a child growing up in Brights Grove, Ont., Jessica Platt lived for hockey. For her, being on the ice was “when everything made sense.”
But off the ice, it was a different story.
For years, Platt struggled with feeling as though she didn’t fit in with the other boys, and hated being in the locker room.
By her teens, she would leave the game she loved, and nearly seven years would pass before she played hockey again.
Platt, now of Kitchener, Ont., shares her triumphs and struggles in a chapter of the new book, Everyday Hockey Heroes Volume II, by sports journalists Bob McKenzie and Jim Lang. Platt is the author of the chapter titled ‘Simply A Hockey Player’.
“It took a lot for me to share my story like this,” Platt told CBC Radio’s Afternoon Drive. “I typically like to focus on the positive aspects, but I had to highlight some of the negative things that I had been through in my life and had to overcome. So it was difficult to write it.”
In the book, Platt looks back on the seven years she spent away from hockey. She moved from Brights Grove to Waterloo, Ont. for university, but not before undergoing hormone replacement therapy (HRT). The physical changes that accompanied the therapy meant a significant loss in her athletic ability.
“A lot of people think that to be a transgender woman playing sports you just simply have to identify as a woman,” Platt said. “But at the elite levels, you have to undergo medical intervention. And the lack of testosterone in your body definitely decreases your speed, your strength, pretty much everything. You have to get used to a new normal.”
Going pro, making history
After beginning hormone replacement therapy and eventually transitioning her gender, Platt played professional for the Toronto Furies of the now-defunct Canadian Women’s Hockey League team.
In 2018, she became the first openly transgender woman in North American professional hockey.
Despite having supportive teammates who she could trust, Platt reflected on the nerve-wracking experience of coming out to coaches, staff, and eventually the entire league.
“Absolutely terrifying,” Platt recalled of the experience. “I was petrified to potentially feel like I didn’t belong in the dressing room again, like I had fought so long for growing up.”
“But thankfully, I got nothing but positive responses and support from my teammates and my coaches. And that was truly incredible.”
The book Everyday Hockey Heroes Volume II was released earlier this week by Simon & Schuster. Take a listen below to Afternoon Drive’s full interview with Jessica Platt.
Afternoon Drive8:24Transgender hockey player shares experience in new book