While pro-wrestling has long struggled with stereotyped characters and queerphobic storylines, the sport continues making strides towards greater acceptance and equality. Take Nyla Rose, for example. Not long ago, she became the first trans woman to sign with a major American professional wrestling promotion, and she’s merely the latest in a small group of out trans wrestlers.
In Japan, Rose is known as “the American Kaiju.” In America, she’s known as “the Barbie Breaker” and “the Native Beast.” She’s of the Native American Oneida tribe, has acted in the TV shows Tofu Pro Wrestling and The Switch, and this Saturday, she’ll be fighting at All Elite Wrestling’s (AEW) Double or Nothing event.
Outsports recently noted that when the AEW first signed Rose full-time, the company immediately let fans know that they wouldn’t stand for transphobia. In a tweet at the time, AEW chief brand officer Brandi Rhodes wrote:
“As we look ahead to Las Vegas, let’s take this opportunity to make it clear that AEW is totally inclusive. We fully support and celebrate all of our athletes, and all of our fans, regardless of their sexual orientation, race, gender, religion or ethnicity. Period.
A safe, inclusive, respectful and very cool environment will be central to everything we do at AEW. Be who you are, and come as you are. Because we’re all going to come together as a community to change the world.”
Here are some pictures of Rose in action:
Interestingly, Rose isn’t the first out trans pro-wrestler. Before her, there was Candy Lee, a New Zealand wrestler with Impact Pro Wrestling; Mariah Morena, “The Bloodthirsty Vixen” with American Wrestling Alliance; U.K. wrestler Harley Ryder; and trans Japanese wrestler Asuka.
But it seems we have yet to see a high-profile trans male pro-wrestler. It’s entirely possible that one is already fighting in an accepting wrestling promotion like Matter of Pride wrestling. But we’ll have to keep watching the ring until we see one hit the big time.
There are other signs of pro-wrestling’s increased embrace of queer athletes. Last year, the WWE held a surprisingly inclusive 2018 WrestleMania event which featured the premiere of its first openly lesbian wrestler, Sonya Deville, and straight ally Finn Balor in rainbow-colored shorts surrounded by an entourage of adoring LGBTQ fans.