Premier Hockey Federation updates participation policy for transgender and non-binary athletes

The Premier Hockey Federation (PHF) -- formerly the National Women's Hockley League -- announced on Friday an updated policy governing participation for transgender and non-binary athletes. The new policy will be in effect immediately for the 2021-2022 season.

"Transgender and non-binary athletes deserve equal opportunity to compete in the Premier Hockey Federation," PHF commissioner Tyler Tumminia said in a statement. "And we embrace our power and responsibility as leaders to make progressive change."

The policy itself provides guidance for the participation of transgender and non-binary athletes. In a departure from other policies applying to transgender athletes at the collegiate, professional and Olympic levels, the PHF policy does not use hormone therapy as the primary basis for eligibility.

Transgender men are eligible to compete in the PHF, and they are not immediately ineligible if taking testosterone for medical transition purposes. They must consult with the PHF for a therapeutic use exemption (TUE). This is a change from the previous policy, which made no allowance for transgender men to medically transition while remaining part of the PHF. Transgender women are eligible to compete in the PHF after living in their transgender identity for at least two years.

This policy is also one of the first to specifically address non-binary athletes. The process is similar to that which governs transgender women and transgender men. Athletes assigned female at birth are eligible to participate in the PHF, but if they wish to take testosterone for transition-related purposes, they must apply for a TUE. For athletes assigned male at birth, they are eligible to compete in the PHF after living in their non-binary identity for at least two years.

"The PHF leads by example in prioritizing the inclusion, health and safety of all athletes in the league. Fairness in hockey and the inclusion of transgender and non-binary athletes are not at odds with one another," Athlete Ally Director of Policy & Programs Anne Lieberman said in a statement.

The updated policy was crafted in consultation with Athlete Ally, a nonprofit advocacy group working at the intersection of LGBTQ issues and sports, and Chris Mosier, a transgender elite athlete and six-time member of Team USA, as well as the founder of TransAthete.com.

The organization first adopted its transgender inclusion policy in 2016, following Harrison Browne sharing that he is transgender and would continue playing hockey in the PHF (then the NWHL). Few professional sports leagues in the United States have adopted any policy considering the inclusion of transgender athletes.

"I am so proud to play for a league that is leading the way to ensure all athletes feel safe, welcomed and respected in hockey," Boston Pride player Mallory Souliotis said.