The Brazilian promotion Mr. Cage 34 will feature a man fighting a transgender woman.
Anne Veriato is a transgender woman who has been competing in jiu-jitsu since she was seven. She has already beaten numerous men in BJJ competitions, and this fight at Mr. Cage 34 will mark her MMA debut.
“I’ve been fighting jiu-jitsu for years, and I wanted to do something different,” Veriato told MMA Fighting. “A lot of people in my team fight MMA already, and I wanted to do it as well.”
Veriato also told MMA Fighting that her transformation happened years after she started training in martial arts. She said that while she hasn’t always been accepted in tournaments, her teammates have accepted her:
It was a bit hard for people to get used to it in the gym. I left the gym for a while and when I came back, no one recognized me. It’s all good now because they were used to it, but it was different in tournaments.
Veriato will be fighting a man named Railson Paixao in a strawweight competition.
It’s only fair to fight men. It never crossed my mind to fight a woman because I think I’m too good. If I beat men my entire career, I can still beat them despite the hormone process.
Some people might be wondering why Variato won’t be fighting women. After all, this is what transgender woman and MMA fighter Fallon Fox did.
According to MMA Fighting, Mr. Cage Promoter Samir Nadaf was against putting Variato against a woman. He also said he disagreed with women like Fallon Fox.
Variato thought fighting a man was only fair.
“It’s only fair to fight men,” she said. “It never crossed my mind to fight a woman because I think I’m too good. If I beat men my entire career, I can still beat them despite the hormone process. I only know that I’m good after I beat men. That’s what makes me happy and hungrier to train. I don’t think it’s fair to fight women.”
She did, however, admit that her hormone therapy is affecting her strength:
Since we do hormonal therapy to become more feminine, the male hormone starts to disappear and don’t come back anymore after a while. I didn’t have the same strength in the gym after that, so that’s why I train so hard to be strong enough to fight men. I feel the difference in strength, and that’s why I work hard.
As I have argued before, MMA is one of the most progressive televised sports in the United States. It is the only sport where you see woman headlining events above men, and one of the few were you see members of the LBGT+ community represented so prominently. Reigning Women’s Bantamweight Champion Amanda Nunes, for instance, is homosexual.
But what should mixed martial arts promotions do about transgender fighters. Should they have them fight against the people of their current gender (like Fallon Fox did), against people of their former gender (like Anne Veriato), or should they be able to fight in whatever division they please? If the last option, should that privilege extend to cis-gender fighters?
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