Transgender mixed martial arts fighter Alana McLaughlin donned an “End Trans Genocide” T-shirt after beating opponent Celine Provost on Friday.
Critics might see a dark irony in McLaughlin claiming victim status after thrashing a woman in a combat sport.
Prior to the match, McLaughlin revealed that fighting has an activist component inspired by Fallon Fox, who sparked a cultural and media firestorm in 2012 by becoming the first trans athlete to compete in MMA.
- “I want to pick up the mantle that Fallon put down,” McLaughlin told Outsports last week. “Right now, I’m following in Fallon’s footsteps. I’m just another step along the way and it’s my great hope that there are more to follow behind me.
- “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. It’s time for trans folks to be in sports and be more normalized.”
- In an interview with the Guardian ahead of the match, Provost said McLaughlin’s gender orientation didn’t bother her and, “We need to show that MMA is an inclusive sport.”
McLaughlin, 38, became the second transgender woman to compete in MMA after stepping into the cage with Provost at Combate Global.
A back and forth contest in Round 1 devolved into pure domination by McLaughlin, as Provost was visibly worn down by her opponent’s power and stamina.
- In Round 2, McLaughlin slammed Provost to the canvas and bloodied her with punches en route to a submission by rear-naked choke.
- McLaughlin, who took the unusual step of completely foregoing any amateur bouts before debuting as a pro, improved to a 1-0-0 record.
- McLaughlin, a former member of the U.S. Army Special Forces, transitioned from male to female after leaving the military in 2010.
The Florida State Boxing Commission cleared McLaughlin to fight after a hormone levels test.
The match sparked furious chatter on social media, from supporters who celebrated McLaughlin as a pioneer of inclusivity and detractors who viewed the transgender athlete as a cheater.
- Some commentators, including English broadcaster Piers Morgan, characterized transgender fighters competing against women in MMA as a travesty disguised as progress.
- “Celine Provost could have been killed as so-called ‘progressive feminists’ around the world welcomed and celebrated the event that could have caused it,” Morgan wrote in an essay for the Daily Mail.
- “Former special forces dude beats woman in MMA fight. Liberals celebrate,” tweeted Hot Air’s Jazz Shaw.
Meanwhile, some critics took aim at the purported absurdity of McLaughlin’s shirt:
“I realize it’s just a dumb shirt but there are plenty of people who genuinely believe this sh•t is real and… like… where is this happening?” tweeted journalist Katie Herzog.