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Hockey president apologizes to the trans community in new role with the Riveters

Digit Murphy was criticized for supporting a group that wants access to sports for trans women, with transition requirements.

Canadian Women’s Hockey League - Kunlun Red Star WIH v Toronto Furies
Digit Murphy is now the president of the Metropolitan Riveters.
Photo by Visual China Group via Getty Images

Digit Murphy, the new president of the Premier Hockey Federation’s Metropolitan Riveters, has issued a video apologizing to the trans community for her previous support of the Women’s Sports Policy Working Group. Murphy left the group over a year ago but has come under recent fire again after being named president of the Riveters.

The WSPWG advocates against bans on trans athletes, publicly testifying and writing op-eds against state bans on trans girls in girls sports. The group also opposes trans-inclusion policies that do not have transition requirements in competitive sports (they view recreational sports differently). Instead, the group supports policies that ensure a path to inclusion for trans women and that include transition requirements for trans women in competitive women’s sports.

In what might explain Murphy’s video as she enters her new role, the PHF removed medical and physical transition requirements for trans women last year. To play in the league, no trans woman has to undergo any medical transition. Virtually every other professional league, college league and national governing body include transition requirements to compete.

“I’m here to apologize to the trans community,” Murphy, a trailblazing woman in ice hockey, says in the video. “When I signed on with the Women’s Working Group, I didn’t do my homework, and I messed up.”

Murphy didn’t make it clear what part of the group she was rejecting, or what she didn’t know before agreeing to join the group.

Before this, Murphy had made it clear she would welcome anyone from the LGBTQ community onto her staff and team.

“It doesn’t matter — gay, straight, trans, non-binary, you’re welcome on my staff,” she told SB Nation’s The Ice Garden. “Now, are you a great player? That is how I’m going to choose the talent on my team. Are you a great person for the job? But of course, I’m open to that.”

While the WSPWG rejects bans on trans women in women’s sports, the group has come under fire from some for vocalizing opposition to the inclusion of trans women in women’s sports without mitigating athletic benefits gained through puberty.

Various members of the group criticized the NCAA for allowing Lia Thomas to compete in the women’s category, both before and after Thomas won an individual NCAA swimming title and earned three All-American honors, saying the one-year NCAA-imposed transition requirement for Thomas was not enough.

Thomas had reportedly been medically transitioning for over two years.

The working group does include various transgender athletes: Joanna Harper is one of the world’s leading researchers on the effects of transition on trans athletes; Juniper Eastwood is one of the most successful trans athletes in the NCAA; and Renee Richards is the trailblazing former professional tennis player who won the right to compete in the women’s US Open tennis tournament.

For her part, Harper is conducting some of the most important research in the world on this topic.

Also, some people have attacked the WSPWG for repeatedly using the terms “biological sex” or “biological male,” which some trans people say belittles their experience or reduces them to their sex, not their gender. While this term is explained and used on the definitive resource for information on transgender athletes, transathlete.com, it is not a preferred term for many trans people.

There has for over a year been a general animosity from many in the trans community toward the WSPWG. Murphy was roundly attacked in 2021 for being part of the group when it publicly announced the work it was doing.

The Riveters have been busy in recent days, announcing a new coach and the return of Madison Packer, one of the league’s best players of all time, is returning to the team as a captain.

“As long as I am a Riveter we will be a safe and inclusive space for all and I look forward to welcoming our fans this season,” Packer said on Twitter.