A documentary on transgender MMA fighter Alana McLaughlin is currently in production.
Last September, McLaughlin became only the second openly transgender woman to compete in mixed martial arts. In doing so, she followed in the footsteps of Fallon Fox, who went 5-1 between 2012 and 2014 before retiring.
Now eight years on from Fox’s final fight and McLaughlin’s ability to compete against cisgender women is experiencing a similar level of scrutiny. “Lady Feral” made her debut under the Combate Global banner in 2021, submitting Celine Provost via rear-naked choke in the second round.
While her wait for another opponent has been frustrating, McLaughlin’s period away from the cage has seen her become the subject of a new documentary, covering her professional debut and its meaning for the inclusion of trans athletes.
During an interview on the Trans Sporter Room whilst filming in New York, McLaughlin noted that agreeing to the doc was more than just a way to tell her own story.
“I signed into to this for the same reasons that got me to fight,” McLaughlin said. “Sure, there’s part of me that wants to be remembered, but it’s really more about making more visibility to the trans community and making space for us.” (h/t Outsports)
The documentary, which is being produced by Combate Global Productions and Emmy-winning director Marc Perez, is slated to air in 2023.
McLaughlin: From Army To Fighting
Prior to her transition, McLaughlin was in the United States Army Special Forces. After joining in 2003 aged 2020, she went on to serve for six years. In 2007, she was deployed to Afghanistan as a medical sergeant.
Having fought for her nation, McLaughlin accepted a new fight following her transition — the battle to have transgender athletes recognized in sport.
Since Fox competed as the first openly trans woman in MMA, talk of the ethics of allowing trans women to compete against cisgender women, and the male equivalent, has increased.
With that, more discussion and action has been seen from covering bodies. And after FINA, which oversees competitive swimming worldwide, and USA Powerlifting marked professional sports organizations that decided against permitting transgender athletes from competing against their stated gender identity, that ruling was seen in combat for the first time.
This past August, the WBC — widely regarded as the most prestigious of the sport’s four major governing bodies — announced a firm ruling on the participation of transgender boxers. The organization cited ‘Fairness’ & ‘Equal Competition’ as grounds to ban trans boxers from facing their cisgender counterparts.
With some calling for a similar conclusion to be reached in MMA promotions, McLaughlin will look to continue making her voice heard, both inside the cage and outside — the latter will no doubt be aided by the upcoming documentary.
Where do you stand on the debate surrounding trans inclusion in combat sports?