The North American Grappling Association (NAGA) recently made changes to its policy regarding the participation of transgender female athletes in NAGA events. These changes came after an incident at a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournament in Georgia on October 21, 2023, where transgender athletes competing in the women’s category led to the withdrawal of cisgender female athletes.
NAGA’s updated policy now specifies that only cisgender female athletes are allowed to compete in the women’s category, while transgender female athletes are required to compete in the men’s category. The organization’s decision is rooted in a commitment to ensuring fairness, inclusivity, and respect for all participants.
NAGA has put in place a protocol for enforcement, allowing transgender athletes found competing in the women’s category to either switch to the men’s division or opt for a refund. The initial policy required informing cisgender female athletes when they were competing against transgender athletes but was reportedly not consistently enforced.
Prominent tennis star Martina Navratilova has expressed support for accommodating transgender athletes in sports, suggesting they could compete in the men’s category or create their own events. She emphasized the importance of preserving opportunities for female athletes in the female category.
Ansleigh Wilk recently shared her experience of competing against a transgender individual in BJJ. She stated, “Please take some time to listen to my experience of fighting a trans athlete in July. This was never just about it affecting me or boasting a win. This was always for anyone else like @JaydenScrappy who was traumatized; for them to have a voice and the confidence to speak out without fear of backlash.”
In her video, Wilk detailed her experience, saying, “I signed up for a tournament called Submission Challenge on July 8th in Marietta, Georgia. I wasn’t fully expecting to get a match because I was a purple belt at the time, and there was no purple belt signed up other than me. But sometimes a blue belt will step up to fight a purple belt.”
However, Wilk soon learned that she would be competing against a biological male, which took her by surprise. She described the physical differences, highlighting the opponent’s strength. Despite initial challenges, Wilk eventually won the match but expressed concerns about the fairness of such contests.
The intention behind sharing her experience was to provide a voice for other female athletes who may feel uncomfortable in similar situations and to raise awareness about the complexities of transgender inclusion in sports.