I don’t know how to begin this article. 

It should be a simple beginning. 

Perhaps the best start is retreading old ground. If you’ve been reading me regularly, you all know I’m Transgender. If you have not, hello I’m Transgender. More specifically I’m a Transgender Woman. By the time of this article, I have passed the eight-month HRT mark. The changes have been slow, much slower than I’d like but that’s how the progress works. Progress takes time, it’s slow, it’s painful, and it’s rarely at the pace you demand/want. The important thing is progress is happening. I never lose sight of that reality, but it’s difficult. It can be quite harsh and hard and this road is never easy. Every time I get misgendered, or stared at (and whispered about) by strangers it’s difficult to take. While not everyone who is Transgender suffers from Dysphoria, I do and it’s awful. It absolutely wrecks me looking in the mirror, or at photographs and absolutely disdaining what I see. I’ve gone days where I scratch at my body hoping I can claw it away and there’s a better, more accurate, body underneath. I understand this is not healthy nor is it ideal. It is the reality of my situation. It is what I go through and what I deal with. My already difficult and changing emotional states have been enhanced by my medication. This makes it hard for me to cope or understand the positives I am experiencing. There are positives. My confidence is better, my outlook on life warmer. Physically, I am slowly developing breasts, my body is changing in ways I don’t always notice. It is happening, but some days I feel like I’m trapped, and I’ll never be able to escape.

In these trying moments I look toward the messy, crazy, and absolutely wonderful world of pro wrestling for my comfort, my peace of mind. Believe it or not, this decision works wonders.

It works because I am blessed with a timeline where incredible Transgender performers are peppered in through the landscape like I would’ve never imagined once before. It is amazing and fortunate to me that pro wrestling has progressed painfully and slowly to the point that not only do we have a wonderful cast of Transgender woman performing in various promotions, and doing well, but performing as themselves, expressing themselves, and continuing to grow and progress into the best versions of themselves that they can be.

I could, and really want, to spotlight and highlight so many of them. Edith Surreal, Dark Sheik, Candy Lee, and many more I could name or still need to discover. They are incredible and inspiring to me for how they present themselves, perform, and are out there being WHO THEY ARE without apology. I try not to put people on pedestals, no doubt they have their faults and pitfalls, but seeing them out there performing motivates and helps me strive to continue putting myself forward and being who I am. 

I remember how I was hit in the heart in a positive way when I saw one individual in particular. That woman was/is Nyla Rose. Nyla Rose is a mainstay in the AEW Women’s division. A much improved—although I never found her bad—and hard-working wrestler who is Transgender. She performs in the women’s division because that’s exactly who she is and any argument or comments to the contrary are transphobic bullshit and should be pushed back on. I say pushed back on and not discarded because you never ignore hate, that allows hate to flourish. You tackle it head-on and slam its god damn head through a wall (metaphorically) as hard as you can.

As a transgender woman beginning her journey of understanding, accepting, and loving herself, seeing Nyla Rose presented in a medium I cherish and respect was a much-needed respite. Here she was, in a community, I wanted to be a part of excelling and succeeding in a landscape that years earlier probably wouldn’t want her or let her do so. The fact she was so damn impressive and had an amazing presence helped echo how strong she came off and is. Seeing her perform and succeed in AEW has been one of my favorite things to witness.

She may be a heel the majority of the time, but I root for her all the same. I root for her because here was someone I could look at, be inspired by, and respect. She didn’t hide who she was, she embraced it, expressed it, and flat out owned it. Everything I wanted to and still try to do in my personal journey and life. This was someone in pro wrestling I could look at and say, that’s fucking me, and I needed that so much. When I face some of my worst days and mindset, it is such a comfort and help to me. 

I needed that representation. I needed that in the open, out there for all to see. For me to see. I saw the attacks, the insults and ridicules disguised as legit critique and analysis. I understand and accept there is legit critique and analysis of Nyla Rose to be had, but it can be hard to decipher. It’s hard to decipher because there are those who do muddle it with legit transphobic bullshit that blurs the lines and make good faith arguments hard to sift out of the grains of hate and cruelty. I can’t get through a single thread on any social media page discussing Nyla Rose before I get immediately slammed with distasteful comments that attack her rather than focus on the discussion at hand. I’m not going to repeat the attacks, I don’t think it’s hard to venture what they are. If you’re Transgender you’ve probably heard the very same attacks. If you’re not Transgender I regret to say you’ve possibly used some of them. I have heard them and had them used against me. Hell, I had my pictures posted on an anti-Transgender website to be mocked and ridiculed. It hurt, it hurt real bad. I’m not going to lie, it made me curl up on my couch and cry. It almost led to self-harm. 

Then I see Nyla Rose, then I see Edith Surreal and others. I see them going through the same shit, going through the same hardships. I’m not going to, and I can’t, speak for them in those situations but seeing fighting through it, living their lives inspires me to do the same. It is a reminder, a much-needed reminder, that in pro wrestling and the world at large I’m not alone. I have a community, I have siblings in arms standing by me, in front of me, behind me, and we’re all in this together. In different ways, we’re fighting the same struggles and taking part in the same battles. We experience, again in different ways, the same hate and push back and we stumble, we fumble, we fall, but we keep getting back up and going forward. Always forward.

Nyla Rose is awesome. Am I biased? Yes, I am biased and I don’t apologize for a single ounce. I gravitate toward her and root for her always. I got a chance to see her live against Riho at the very first AEW Dynamite. I screamed and cheered my damn heart out.

When she finally won the AEW Women’s championship, my heart was filled with warmth that day. Look, I’m not going to overhype her or over-rate her, but I’m going to call it as it is. She is absolutely someone I will always cheer for. Not only for being a wrestler, but simply for who she is and what she means to me when it pertains to my personal journey and experiences. She’s not perfect, she has her faults, and there are criticisms to be had, but I need Nyla Roses in this wrestling industry. I need them all and not just the Transgender women. The Transgender men, the Non-Binaries, The Genderqueers and Genderfluids, etc., etc., etc. Forgive me if I didn’t list you, it’s just so much to list and I need it. I need them fucking all. Give them to me at all times. They haven’t deserved it, they’ve earned it. And it matters. Seeing them perform, seeing them excel and succeed matters. I’m so glad to see them get more platforms, more chances. It helps me, motivates me, drives me. It lets me know I belong, I matter in this community, in this fandom, and there are many more like me who need to know/hear/see that message as well. 

There is so much Transphobia and hate going on right now. So much, and it’ll probably increase and intensify. I cry at night when I look at how much anti-transphobic legislation is being presented, and at times to my horror passing out there. It scares me, it terrifies me, I feel alone. Then I turn to wrestling. I see Nyla Rose, and others, out there, being who they are and doing what they do, and I know I’m not. We’re in this fight and struggle together. I don’t know what the future may hold, but thanks to this knowledge, I can face it. I can continue being and expressing who I am. 

I didn’t know how to begin, but I know how to end. Mom once asked me dismissively, “do you honestly think being Transgender will make your life easier.”

No Mother, I really didn’t think that. I knew it wouldn’t, it hasn’t. But I’ve gained confidence, I’ve been happier. For the first time in my thirty-eight years of living, I know who I am and I feel my true self. I can look in the mirror and smile at who is looking back at me. I feel a light turned on in me that has been turned off for so long and I never thought it existed. I am Transgender Woman and I’m proud. I’m so damn proud, and having these people on my television, computer, phone screen coming out into the ring and excelling gives me personalities to be proud of. Thank you Nyla Rose, thank you, everyone. Don’t let your stride break for anyone, always forward. I’m there for you rooting, cheering, shouting my damn heart out until my voice has gone out. My voice may go out cheering for you, but my love and heart will grow bigger, stronger always. I’m proud of you.

You know what?

I might just be proud of myself also.