Jessica Platt of the Toronto Furies says she never wanted to be anything other than ordinary.
Coming out to her friends, family and fans was a difficult process for the 28-year-old hockey player, as transgender was never a label she went by.
“I just saw myself as a woman,” says Platt, who spoke to students at Centennial College’s East York campus earlier this week about her journey. “But with the happiness and confidence I found in my life, it was OK to use the label transgender to help others like me.”
With the support of her family and Canadian Women’s Hockey League team members, Platt became the first openly transgender woman in Canadian hockey after an Instagram post on Jan. 10.
“Hockey was the place where I could escape and focus on one thing — it was off the ice that was the difficult part for me,” Platt says. “People are terrible on the internet.”
While she is personally secure with her trans identity, coming out brought on public scrutiny. To keep her sanity, Platt routinely avoids comments on articles and Twitter.
“However, I don’t regret it at all,” she says. “Before I came out there was always a voice in the back of my mind saying, ‘What if someone found out?’ When I came out I felt more free.”
Since becoming openly transgender in January, Platt has been able to play hockey and follow her dreams, while staying true to herself, she says.
She recognizes the lack of representation with transgender athletes and women playing professional sports. As one of the first to come out in the league, she uses her platform to give advice to those who are afraid or hesitant to be themselves — and proud.
“There’s no rush to come out, but make sure you’re in a safe place and do it when you’re ready. If you have a good support system, everything will be OK,” Platt says.
“Ignore the haters. People are going to say terrible things no matter what.”