Patricio Manuel's Fight for the Trans Community

On Saturday night 8th December, Patricio Manuel became the first transgender male to fight professionally in the US in his boxing match against Hugo Aguilar in Indio, California. This makes him the first visible FTM boxer to fight in both genders. He had previously been a five-time national champion in the amateur female division and took part in the trials for the 2012 Olympics. Evidently a proficient boxer, he had more important fights to win: those of social justice and visibility. 

Manuel began to transition back in 2013 after being unable to compete in the 2012 Olympics due to a shoulder injury. More recently, Manuel told the Desert Sun newspaper that he "needed all that to happen" and that he was "really glad with the way everything played out" as the shoulder injury seemed almost like a blessing in disguise. Boxing authorities were initially sceptical and unsure about granting Manuel his licence, however the International Olympic Committee's 2016 ruling that female to male transgender athletes could compete 'without restriction' enabled him to live his dream as a male boxer.

As he fought bravely and confidently, with surgery scars visible on his chest and abdomen, he was completely visible but requested that ringside commentators not mention the fact that he was trans, allowing him to compete in his own right. His opponent, Aguilar, only learned of Manuel's transition two days before the fight but assured that it did not matter to him. The Los Angeles Times reported him saying "It doesn't change anything for me. In the ring he wants to win and I want to win too". This is reflective of the positive culture being created within sports towards LGBT+ issues as Manuel is taken as a boxer in his own right, regardless of gender, and is only judged on skill. 

His victory is a historic moment for the LGBT+ community and the sporting industry. It demonstrates an acceptance and inclusion that is an overwhelmingly positive step for the US. Manuel joins Thai boxer Charoenphol and mixed martial artist Fox as the first transgender professional fighters. One can only hope that this trend will continue and that these are only the first three in a long history of visible transgender sportspeople.