Alana McLaughlin and her arduous life journey were embedded with identity issues from the start, but that ultimately led to her successful MMA debut.
At the age of ten, McLaughlin’s parents began to take notice that their young child had an indelible desire to transition. McLaughlin’s actions were often met with pushback, as her parents have been resistant to her identity/transgender issues. While enduring the throes of physical and sexual abuse at a young age, she has fought persistently to be identified in the way she views herself. McLaughlin made history by becoming the second U.S. transgender fighter to come out.
In addition, she won her fight against newcomer Celine Provost by rear-naked choke at the recent Combate Global event.
McLaughlin was raped and traumatized throughout much of her early childhood. Dirt-poor, growing up in South Carolina, McLaughlin began taking estrogen pills she bought online behind her parents’ backs. Once the medication began to make her chest swell, she stopped taking it in fear of being caught by her parents. Years later and still puzzled by identity issues, McLaughlin’s struggles led her to join the U.S. Special Forces.
On the September 10th Combate Global card, McLaughlin–the second openly transgender fighter won and did so with a tight rear-naked choke submission. Much like her life, McLaughlin faced adversity early on in the fight but rallied back to make history for the transgender community. Upon hearing about McLaughlin’s success as the first open U.S. trans fighter, some outspoken MMA personalities like Sean Strickland have taken umbrage with that and especially her latest win.
After seizing her first win in MMA, McLaughlin believes her painful life journey has prepared her for the high-pressure moments of cage fighting. Once on the battlefield bandaging up wounded soldiers, McLaughlin is confident her military experience will only pay dividends down the line in her fighting career.
“On one hand inside I know who I am, but I’m trying to deny it,” said McLaughlin via The Guadian. “I’m telling myself: ‘No, you can do this, you can do this!’ I’m giving myself a pep talk, telling myself I am a man.”
Raped at a young age, McLaughlin was constantly hiding in thorny raspberry fields as a kid to deter the trauma that followed her during childhood. Her struggles and tribulations are out in the open, and that in itself is a giant win for the transgender community.
“My whole life I was a runt, I was undersized, I was bullied, I was raped, I was beaten, like I did not have an easy time,” said McLaughlin. “The story of my life has been trying to physically resist people that were larger and stronger and more skilled than me.”
While much of her life was spent avoiding physical altercations, McLaughlin is an MMA fighter now. After securing the win in her debut, fans will be clamoring to see what’s next for “Lady Feral”. A living inspiration for the trans community, McLaughlin’s presence in MMA has been exciting and polarizing.
Is there a place for transgender athletes in all sports?