Nyla Rose spoke about being the first and only trans wrestler to work for a major promotion while doing an interview with Sports Illustrated.
Since joining AEW, she has held the Women’s Title and is one of the top wrestlers in the division. Here are the highlights:
A transphobic sign in the crowd during her match with Ruby Soho on the December 22nd edition of Dynamite that was removed by security:
“For the most part, people understood why that sign was wrong,” Rose says. “Maybe that person didn’t quite understand the gravity of what they were doing. You want to boo, that’s cool. But there is a line.”
“People might feel it’s a conflict of their beliefs by simply respecting someone else, but it’s not,” Rose says. “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.
“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?”
Her transitional journey
“My transitional journey might be completely different from somebody else who grew up in the same conditions as I did, or grew up in totally different conditions,” Rose says. “The transition is completely different for every single person. That’s one of the things that gets lost on a lot of people. You hear this umbrella term of transgender and you think it’s supposed to be black-and-white, and that’s not the case.
“For me, I am a binary trans woman. I identify with everything that is femme and female. That’s where I’m comfortable, that’s where I live. I personally believe it is a broad spectrum, and anyone can fall anywhere on it.”
“For me, pro wrestling is my perfect fit,” says Rose, 39, who is known as The Native Beast in AEW. “I was not happy in my previous life. I had to find that happiness, I had to find out what it meant to be happy. And I knew what it meant, I just didn’t think it was achievable. So I had to find that for myself and walk that hard road.
“I don’t display that part of the character for Nyla Rose. It doesn’t connect inside the squared circle. Outside the ring, I get it. It’s new to a lot of people. I don’t shy away from it. I’m much happier now. I’ve found that confidence and courage. It’s a very long journey, one that is different for every person who walks this road.”
Taking pride in bringing representation and diversity to pro wrestling.
“People from so many different walks of life have connected with me, and I think that’s wild,” Rose says. “I grew up a wrestling fan, and I found inspiration in my life 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.
“Black families have said they see me as someone who is so strong. As a Native person, I’ve heard from families that tell me it makes them so proud of their heritage, that they’ve broken down in joy when they see themselves reflected in the Iroquois flag. The LGBTQ community has such a prominent figure [in Nyla Rose], and I understand the importance of that. We’re not made to be a punchline; we are not here to be a joke. This character isn’t going to be a pushover. It’s meant a lot to a lot of people, and it’s taking me time to process that.”
AEW President Tony Khan also talked about the importance of Rose in the promotion:
“Nyla Rose is a great wrestler, and she’s a trailblazer,” says Khan, who is CEO, GM, and head of creative for AEW. “She was front and center when AEW Dynamite debuted in 2019 and made history a few months later when she became the first openly transgender wrestler to win a world championship in a major promotion when she captured the AEW Women’s World Championship. She has continued to break barriers ever since, elevating the entire locker room with her incredible work ethic and commitment to being a role model for underrepresented communities.
“Nyla is a key member of our roster, and all of us are lucky to have the amazing ‘Native Beast’ wrestling in AEW.”