Female martial artists, fearing for their safety, decided not to participate in a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournament in Georgia last month due to the inclusion of transgender athletes.
One transgender fighter, Corissa Griffith, took home four gold medals in the women’s category on Oct. 21.
Some female fighters said they were not warned they were about to face transgender opponents until they stepped onto the mat earlier this year.
“I honestly never thought this would actually happen in a contact sport, especially not my contact sport,” professional martial artist Jayden Alexander told Reduxx. “When I saw him, I was so shocked I didn’t know how to respond.”
Alexander, who is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu blue belt, fought against Cordelia Gregory, a transgender female, during a tournament in July.
A second female fighter, Ansleigh Wilk, also fought Gregory at the same event, saying she wasn’t told she would be facing a transgender woman.
“I hadn’t been notified,” Wilk said. “The only thing that brought it to my attention was my teammates. They kept asking me, ‘Are you fighting a man?’ and I was honestly too focused on coaching the rest of the crew to really pay attention to my opponent.”
Both said fighting Gregory was different than squaring off with another female.
“The fact of the matter is that he had a man’s strength,” Alexander said. “I train with men and women and the difference is massive. After my match with Cordelia, I sat mat-side and cried as my teammates massaged out my cramping forearms.”
The North American Grappling Association faced controversy in September after news that biological females were matched up with transgender women went viral.
The association, which facilitates standards and tournaments in various martial arts, were notified of a match between Taelor Moore and transgender athlete Alice McPike, who had a 65-pound weight advantage over the 135-pound Moore.
NAGA issued a statement clarifying its policies involving females.
“NAGA does not require biological women to compete against transgender women. Instead, we give the choice to the biological women and if they decline, they compete in a division only with other biological women.”
The female fighters say that didn’t happen, and decided to skip the Oct. 21 tournament after seeing transgender athletes had signed up.
“The majority of the women feel scared to even speak out about this matter,” Wilk said. “They don’t want to be labelled a bigot or transphobic. There’s so many girls just not signing up now because they are allowing this. Women’s sports will cease to exist if this keeps up. Medals, belts, records, and money are going to be stripped right away from women.”