Danielle McLean is a 34-year-old, Washington D.C.-based senior editor for Smart Cities Dive, a business journal dedicated to news surrounding cities, municipalities, city planning and infrastructure.
When she not writing or editing, she’s a Boston-bred hockey player who brings her game regularly to varied rinks across the D.C. metro.
“I’m working on long hours during the day and half my attention is on whatever city stuff I’m working on and the rest is on what happening the news which is always horrific,” McLean noted. “After work, playing hockey it's my happy place with beers right after the game.”
McLean echoed this sentiments in an April opinion piece for CNN.com. She talked about being a transgender woman playing alongside cisgender women in the game she loves and why access and participation matters.
“I and other trans women would like to be the best we could be at the top levels of the sports we’ve spent our entire lives training for — that means competing with and against other dedicated women athletes. No athlete should be subjected to abuse from politicians, online trolls and international news outlets for competing in the sport they love. They should not have to feel as though they are letting down their community or being placed in a fishbowl of hate when they achieve a level of success.” — Danielle McLean to CNN.com
In an interview on the Trans Sporter Room this week, she explained her viewpoints and her journey on and off the ice. Also in her focus was the leaked preliminary opinion of the United States Supreme Court on Roe v. Wade, and how a potential reversal may affect trans rights.
“Its horrific. It’s a car crash we’ve been collectively watching for over six years now,” McLean lamented in regards to decision that may come and the anti-trans legislation that has been passed. “It’s just so bad now that it's pretty much real. That is painful for trans non-binary folks and for trans men. They are facing the same impacts and realities that cis women are facing.”
Hockey has been her place to be, to heal and to belong. In high school, the sport was her motivation as she fought Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Shifts on ice made shifts on chemotherapy bearable.
Years later, hockey helped her come to terms with her gender transition and along the way she found support and acceptance in women’s game both in her native Boston and after career took her south.
“In Boston when I started playing hockey, the women I played with were so supportive. I got a nickname. When I went off to have surgery my team threw my party,” she remembered, “Even when I moved here to D.C., the community here is great. People knew and they supported me. I even found my partner here while playing ice hockey. It’s my community. It’s my home.”
McLean has also found a place on Team Trans Hockey. She was among the group of players for the all-trans continent-wide group who faced off in Madison, Wisconsin last November. When Team Trans played their inaugural series in Boston in 2019, an injured McLean couldn’t suit up for the pioneering team in her hometown. Having the chance to play last year was sweet redemption for her.
“It was an amazing experience,” she glowed as she talked about series in Madison. “By the time I was on the ice I had so much adrenalin. I felt like I was 22 and in a big playoff game. It was great.”
“Just being able to play in my true authentic self and not have that burden weighing on you. Not feeling jealous and you don’t knowing why,” she continued with a soft smile. “It’s a freeing feeling to just feel normal and to not think about my gender identity now. It’s a really good feeling.”
Danielle McLean provided a deep look into her journey, her game, how her Boston Bruins will do in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and even waxed nostalgic on the premier hockey videogames of the 1990s.
Check out the full interview on the latest edition of The Trans Sporter Room now available on Megaphone, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Apple podcasts, and many other platforms for Outsports podcasts as well.