Trans wrestling star Nyla Rose shares secret to laying the smackdown on transphobia

Nyla Rose, a wrestler, holds up a championship belt above her head after a victory in the ring

Trans AEW star Nyla Rose has opened up about confronting transphobia both inside and outside the wrestling ring.

Rose is a dominating force within the wrestling world as she is the first openly trans wrestler in a major league after she joined All Elite Wrestling, known by its acronym AEW, in 2019. Rose broke another barrier after she won the AEW women’s world championship in 2019, making her the first trans wrestler to win a major American title.

On top of fighting in the ring, she has also confronted vile hatred while competing and even had to deal with a member of an AEW audience displaying a transphobic sign as she entered the ring for a match in December.

Rose told Sports Illustrated that she plays the role of a villain in the ring, and her story arc often involves physically dominating whoever comes up against her in the ring. As such, she understood that fans wouldn’t necessarily like her, but she said “there is a line” when being a fan crosses into anti-trans hate.

“For the most part, people understood why that sign was wrong,” Rose explained. “Maybe that person didn’t quite understand the gravity of what they were doing.”

She continued: “You want to boo, that’s cool. But there is a line.”

As she stepped into the ring for the December match against Ruby Soho, a fan was seen on live TV holding up a sign that read: “Nyla Rose is this guy’s dad.” The sign included an arrow pointing at another audience member.

Seemingly unfazed, Rose flipped the attendee a middle finger. Her wife later revealed on social media that the fan had been ejected from the match by security.

Nyla Rose told Sports Illustrated that she received an wave of support from fans after the disgusting incident. But the wrestling icon said there is still a long-way to go when it came to championing trans-inclusion in the wrestling community.

“People might feel it’s a conflict of their beliefs by simply respecting someone else, but it’s not,” Rose said. “You don’t have to understand or even agree with somebody’s situation to show them simple respect and kindness, like respecting their pronouns and respecting their way of life.”

She continued: “I’d love for people to be cool with it, but if that’s not your thing, it’s not your thing.

“But shouldn’t people want to treat their fellow humans with a little respect and kindness?”

Nyla Rose is seen in the ring with a ref during an AEW tournament

Nyla Rose, in black, competes in the AEW Women’s World Championship at the Capitol One Arena on 2 October 2019. (Astrid Riecken For The Washington Post via Getty)

Rose described professional wrestling as her “perfect fit”, and she discovered happiness by being able to compete as her authentic self in the sport.

She added that fans from “all walks of life have connected with me”. She shared it has been such a “wild” experience as she grew up as a wrestling fan and was inspired “from the things the wrestlers did”.

“I’m going out there thinking I’m just performing and putting on a show, but people have told me I’m a beacon for them,” she said.

Rose said she had received so much love from Black families who see her as a “strong” person as well as Indigenous communities who said that seeing her “makes them so proud of their heritage”.

She said that she’s also proud to represent the LGBT+ community in the ring. Rose promise she would keep fighting for the queer community, declaring “we are not here to be a joke”.

“This character [Nyla Rose] isn’t going to be a pushover,” Rose said. “It’s meant a lot to a lot of people, and it’s taking me time to process that.”