A female athlete was reportedly not told she would be competing against a male during a Brazilian jiu-jitsu tournament in California last week, prompting a policy revision from the North American Grappling Association (NAGA).
On September 12, Brazilian jiu-jitsu athlete Taelor Moore posted a clip to her Instagram account with the caption, “I weighed in at 135 … and she was over 200!” In the video, a much larger male with braided hair steps up to the mat and engages in combat with her.
Comments on Moore’s post were overwhelmingly supportive, praising her for holding her own against a male twice her size.
“Far from a she, that’s a grown-ass man using his size and weight against you. Congratulations on the win but you ladies need to stand together and not compete against men with makeup. You ladies are the key, this is not okay,” said one concerned commenter.
“Shout out to all the REAL women competitors out there. That other dude should be ashamed of himself,” replied another.
Some responses congratulated Moore for managing to defeat her much larger opponent despite his significant physical advantage. “That guy should not be [allowed] to compete but she is amazing for whooping him,” read one reply.
The match took place during the NAGA Grappling Championship on September 9. Reduxx has identified the male participant as James McPike, 29, who is currently using the feminine name Alice. While McPike lost to Moore, he took home silver in the women’s Absolute No-GI Indeterminate category after beating out a different female athlete.
Following Moore’s video going viral on Instagram, her coach, Smitty Wit, took the opportunity to defend his student in a video where he addressed the issue of trans-identifying males competing against women in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
“I have a student who went against a trans athlete in an open-weight division for jiu-jitsu grappling, a combat sport,” Wit said. “I’m sure a lot of people hearing this are thinking that my student lost. No, she won.”
“But I have a really big issue at hand, this is a very serious topic,” he continued. “In jiu-jitsu we don’t drug test. You can take steroids. Everyone knows this. It is what it is. When you step on these mats, you waive your rights to your life…. And I had to gaslight my student.”
Wit explains that Moore had expressed incredulity when she saw McPike, but he attempted to reassure her to “keep her morale up” by telling her: “That’s not what you think it is.”
Moore’s coach went on to suggest that she had received criticism from trans activists for sharing the video of her match against McPike.
“This is my problem. When she goes online and posts about her experience, now she’s a bigot and she’s ‘outing’ this trans athlete. Where do we draw the line? So now women can’t talk about their experiences in a combat sport?”
In the captions accompanying his commentary, Wit clarified that “this isn’t a ‘ban trans’ video,” while reiterating his concern for the safety of women competing in jiu-jitsu. Wit appeared to draw a comparison between a male athlete grappling with a female to doping.
“My student could have been SEVERELY injured by an untested athlete, and gave up a solid 50lbs. Now you’re telling me women can’t EXPRESS their experience, if that experience conflicts with the other individual? Why is it only okay for women to complain when they lose, but have to shut up about it if they win?” Wit asked.
As with Moore’s video, most replies supported Wit, though some criticized him for a lack of clarity on his position regarding male athletes competing against women.
However, Foundation Chicago, a martial arts school where McPike trains, strongly disagreed with Wit and claimed that trans-identifying males have no physical advantage over females in sport.
“Are you saying trans athletes shouldn’t compete against cis athletes? If so, say it. We disagree. Your student showed superior technique and looked slick as all heck against ours, and that’s why she got the well-deserved [win],” Foundation Chicago replied.
“Beating a much larger trans athlete in short order demonstrates quite well that there’s no crazy advantage for trans women against cis women. Say things with your whole chest, don’t be mealy-mouthed, and then discussions can happen. Congrats on being a great coach and on your student doing so well. Super impressive.”
The controversy caused NAGA to issue a statement on the situation.
“We are aware of an incident over the weekend where a transgender female competed in a women’s division without prior knowledge of their transgender status. We have since updated our policy to require transgender competitors to contact us in advance so we can discuss and explain the policy to them,” NAGA stated.
“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.”
NAGA then provided a link to their official policy, which reads: “For those who chose not to compete with the transgender female, we will inquire if they have an interest in entering a separate division which includes the transgender female. This additional division will be offered at no cost to those competitors. However, if individuals decline this opportunity, the transgender female will be directed to compete with the males in their respective weight and skill level category.”
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