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Jessica Platt on Coming Out as a Pro Hockey Player: ‘I Stand for Equality’

September 17, 2019, 4:24 PM UTC

When Jessica Platt came out as the first transgender woman to play in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League, she didn’t realize just how much of a burden she was carrying.

“I didn’t realize until after I came out how much stress I had been living under,” Platt said during Fortune‘s Most Powerful Women International Summit in Toronto on Tuesday. “After I came out, it was like a weight had been lifted. I had one less thing to worry about.”

Platt was already living her dream. She found success in her passion for hockey, trying out for the Toronto Furies, and joining the team.

But Platt felt she needed to come out to the world—starting with her team.

“I decided to come out because there’s a real need for visibility and representation in the LGBTQ+ community,” Platt explained.

“I wanted to create a conversation in the sports community where they don’t typically have a conversation about a transgender athlete, and I wanted to get the ball rolling on that.”

Then Platt was faced with a different struggle. The Canadian Women’s Hockey League, where Platt and others built their careers—and lives—shuttered earlier this year due to financial insecurity.

“It was absolutely devastating because it had essentially become my whole life besides my full-time job,” Platt said.

But she isn’t exactly sitting around feeling sorry for herself because of the league’s closure or any of the hateful anti-transgender comments she gets online on a daily basis.

“I honestly believe I am lucky because I know who I am and I know what I stand for. I stand for equality. I stand for people who can’t. I stand for people who don’t feel like they can share their voice, and I hope that they find strength in mine.”

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—Tune in to Fortune’s Most Powerful Women international summit through Sept. 17
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