Although we recently celebrated Nyla Rose for making history as the first out transgender woman ever signed to a full-time contract with a major wrestling promotion, she’s merely the most recent out trans woman wrestler.
So here are Nyla and four others who helped blaze the trail, too:
1. Nyla Rose
Known in Japan as “the American Kaiju” and in America as and “the Native Beast“ and “the Barbie Breaker,” Rose became a full-time member of the All Elite Wrestling roster in February 2019.
Rose has won several titles including the Warriors Of Wrestling Women’s Championship title twice, the Covey Promotions Women’s Championship title three times and the United Pro Wrestling Association Women’s Championship one time.
She has also acted in the TV shows “Tofu Pro Wrestling” and “The Switch,” the first-ever trans-themed TV series produced in Canada. In “The Switch”, she plays an IT manager who loses her job and apartment after coming out as trans.
2. Candy Lee (Leilani Tominiko)
Candy Lee (aka. Leilani Tominiko)Candy Lee
When Lee won her Dec. 16, 2017 “Nightmare before Christmas” match against fellow wrestler Britenay, the then-22-year-old grappler became the Women’s Champion of Impact Pro Wrestling New Zealand and the first trans woman to win a major indie title.
In an interview with the New Zealand Herald, Lee said she hadn’t really faced any transphobic discrimination and said that IPW was “pretty accepting with a family feel vibe.” She trains five times a week for two hours a day and competes monthly.
Appropriately, her finishing move is a slam called “The Candy Crush” and she also uses a lariat move called “The Gobstopper.”
3. Amanda, the Bloodthirsty Vixen (Mariah Moreno)
Mariah Moreno (aka Amanda the Bloodthirsty Vixen)
Amanda’s wrestling name comes as a none-too-subtle pun referencing her trans identity, but her nickname comes from her hardcore wrestling experiences in bloody matches involving fluorescent light tubes and barbed wire. She has won various titles including the NTW/NTLL Women’s Championship, G&t Hardcore Championship, the 2012 Luna Vachon Lunacy Cup Award, the 2010 Miss LuchaLords title.
“For me, a trans women in wrestling, it’s even harder,” Moreno said in a 2013 interview. I’ve been rejected as a wrestler from a few wrestling promotions because of it. Since when did indy wrestling join the WWE/TNA bandwagon with the whole ‘We don’t allow man-on-women violence policy?’ I know I sound like a complainer right now, but I want everyone to know that it hurts. I live my life as a woman everyday, therefore I’d like to be treated as one at all times.”
4. Harley Ryder (Drew-Ashlyn-Cunningham)
Harley Ryder Harley Ryder
Known as Britain’s first trans wrestler, she competed within the U.K. Wrestling promotion after training for several months.
“The men [in wrestling] are very comfortable with me,” she told The Daily Mail in 2013. They’re all nice and make sure they care for me. Every time they give me a move they will ask me if I am OK. They do make sure I am in safe hands. It’s not an issue for them. The guys are really supportive and in a way it’s really surprising because that world, the wrestling world, can be masculine and macho.”
This Japanese wrestler (not to be confused with the WWE cis-female wrestler of the same name) was the first trans woman to hold a women’s championship title in a major indie company, the Japanese promotion Pro Wrestling WAVE. She competes in intergender matches for DDT Pro-Wrestling in Japan.
In a translated 2017 interview, Asuka said that she felt pressured into Judo, Kenpo and wrestling as a youth because, as the only child assigned male at birth among her two other siblings, she felt expected to be physically competitive. She wrestled in high school and dropped out of after coming out to her parents as being attracted to men around age 16. She didn’t completely realize her trans identity until later.
She says she’s inspired by high-flying wrestlers and wants to develop her own unique wrestling style. She also said she wants to make friends with other male-to-female trans people so they can discuss romance and work issues in ways that she can’t with cis people.