Transgender athletes especially trans women competing in the woman’s division are a subject of heated debates since the beginning of their participation in sports.
In MMA in 2021 Alana McLaughlin made MMA history as the first openly trans woman fighter fighting women. She made her professional debut at Combate Global event in Miami, Florida.
The former male US Army Special Force Sergeant is the first openly trans woman MMA fighter competing professionally since Fallon Fox’s last fight seven years ago. Fox was initially closeted and the news about her biology were revealed some time later. At this point she faced tremendous backlash – and deservedly so.
Back in September of last year, McLaughlin fought a French cis woman – fighter named Celine Provost. McLaughlin endured the barrage of strikes from Provost in the first round and won the fight by rear-naked choke in the second round.
‘The Lady Feral’ said in an interview that fighting in the cage was her dream and she planned to compete seriously while she can.
“I’m 38, so if I’m going to do anything serious competitive athletically, like now is the time,” she said. “Every fighter’s got an expiration date, and I want to do it while I still can.”
As a fellow trans fighter, Fallon Fox herself also took part in McLaughlin’s professional debut as she pointed out McLaughlin as a potential transgender fighter to Combate Global. She later helped McLaughlin with training and mentorship which paid off with McLaughlin’s victory.
“If we want to see more trans athletes, if we want to see more opportunities for trans kids, we’re going to have to work out way into those spaces and make it happen,” McLaughlin added on the interview. “It’s time for trans folks to be in sports and be more normalized.”
While her participation in MMA drew a lot of negative receptions, there are still a number of media outlets that support McLaughlin’s journey.
One of them is Outsports which recently named McLaughlin as 2021’s Transgender Athlete Advocate of the Year, edging the fellow trans woman athlete, the Olympic weightlifter Laurel Hubbard.