The Boston Derby Dames Just Got a Gender-Neutral New Name

To recognize gender diversity, the league will now go by Boston Roller Derby.

Boston Derby Dames

BRD skaters in action. Photo by Joe Medolo

The Boston Derby Dames, the Boston area’s first women’s roller derby league, just got a gender-neutral rebrand. The league is eschewing its decade-old name, and, starting with the 2016 season, will go by Boston Roller Derby.

Public relations chair Katherine Rugg—who also competes in the league under the nickname Space Invader—says the new name is more sensitive to skaters from a wide spectrum of gender identities, an important consideration since the league is open to any individual who self-identifies as a female and has long attracted many LGBTQ members. “Skaters or league members or officials are no longer forced to be called dames, which obviously is a gendered word,” she says. “I feel like they have a little bit more power in the identity.”

In addition to supporting gender diversity and equality, Rugg says the shift reflects the league’s progression over the last 10 years from underground pastime to bona fide sport. (For those still unfamiliar, BRD’s 70 skaters field four teams: the Boston Cosmonaughties, Horrors, Nutcrackers, and Wicked Pissahs. The leagues’ all-star team, the Boston Massacre, is ranked 20th worldwide.)

“At this point, we feel like the league’s name suggests that we have a more professional image and we are a group of athletes, as opposed to just girls or dames,” Rugg says.

And while its name may be new, Rugg says gender equality, acceptance, and empowerment are themes that have been important to the league’s ethos since its inception.

“It’s always been a part of what is deeply integrated within our community and within our league’s ethics, but I think this is really just a public reflection of that at this point,” she says. “It was the one thing that seemed to be in contrast with how our league really felt about itself.”