The Vancouver Canucks recently honored their city’s vast network of minor hockey teams on Jan. 23 when the Calgary Flames came to town. During this event, a young goaltender named Cory Oskam got to stand right next to his hero and fellow netminder Cory Schneider during the national anthem–but Oskam’s story is even more interesting than just that shining moment.
Oskam is transgender and chose to christen himself Cory because of Schneider when he began to transition about a year and a half ago. Oskam had never felt comfortable or right in a female body, so he used medication to block the hormones that would signal female puberty at age nine, giving him time to decide what he wanted to do. He then decided to begin taking testosterone and is comfortable in his body now.
He chose the name Cory due to serendipity. He’d been an avid hockey card collector and his mom, trying to get him to cut down a bit, told him to pick just one player and focus on collecting different cards featuring him alone. So Oskam opened a pack and, boom, Schneider card. Something clicked in his head and he decided that Schneider was his spotlight player. At that time, Oskam was also starting to decide on his new name and tried on a few around the house that just didn’t really work. Once again, his mom made a good suggestion: she said he could try to see if Cory would be a good name.
It worked–it worked well.
Oskam has felt very welcomed and accepted by his fellow students at Vancouver’s Britannia Secondary School, which boasts a special hockey academy where he plays goal.
“I felt like an outsider, now I have a great support system and a great group of friends, which I’ve never had before. Life is great,” he said.
Oskam often speaks at other schools and events about homophobia, transphobia, intersectional issues, bullying and discrimination–in fact, he was just about to go speak at an event when his mom told him he would get to go skate at Rogers Arena and meet Schneider in a matter of days. So, he went out on NHL ice to be right next to his fellow Cory and later got his goalie pads autographed. Those pads, by the way, were once Schneider’s and Oskam bought them at a Canucks equipment sale.
Plus, this whole thing happened on Oskam’s 16th birthday. Here’s to a moment that he will surely never forget.