The second openly transgender MMA fighter in the US has won her debut match reigniting the debate over trans women in sports.
Alana McLaughlin, 38, won her first professional fight in the Combate Global prelims Friday against Celine Provost, ending the match with a rear-naked choke 3 minutes and 32 seconds into the second round.
McLaughlin, from South Carolina, began her transition in 2010 after spending six years in the US Army special forces.
Her victory prompted backlash from a number of people who said it was unfair for a trans woman to compete against a cis-gendered athlete in the sport.
‘I’m getting a lot of variations of the same nasty messages calling me a cheater like I didn’t just get beat on for a round and a half. Y’all need to show Céline Provost some respect and take your concern trolling elsewhere.’ McLaughlin responded on Twitter, adding.
‘Transphobes are just making my block hand stronger.’
She is the second openly transgender athlete to fight MMA professionally in the US, following Fallon Fox who made history in 2012 with her debut, and who retired in 2014.
‘I want to pick up the mantle that Fallon put down,’ she told Outsports.
Alana McLaughlin, born Ryan, began her transition in 2010 after leaving the US Army Special Forces
‘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.’
Many on social media, however, said McLaughlin’s win was an example of an unfair push to include trans women in sports.
‘Alana McLaughlin transitioned 5 years ago, which means that “she” lived 33 years of her life as a man,’ wrote combat sports podcaster Angel David Castro.
‘Alternative headline: “Man cheats,”‘ posted Jessica O’Donnell, a writer for the Blaze in the replies to a New York Post article about the win.
”Male violence against women as a public sport? #NoThankYou,’ posted Genevieve Gluck, a contributor to Canadian feminist website Feminist Current.
Amid the backlash McLaughlin told her fans that it was not necessary to defend her.
‘Don’t feel obligated to defend me against transphobes online,’ she tweeted. ‘We all know they’re not arguing in good faith and your energy is better spent elsewhere.’