Trans Boxer Patricio Manuel’s Recent Wins Are Challenging Pro Boxing Policy

The US’s first trans male professional boxer, Patricio Manuel, has emerged from a four-year hiatus to win a series of matches against cisgender opponents. Manuel’s winning streak not only has him climbing in professional rankings, it could lead to a reckoning with how trans boxers are categorized in the sport.

Manuel debuted on the professional circuit in late 2018, winning a match against cis opponent Hugo Aguilar and becoming the first trans boxer to do so. But this promising start stuttered to halt when he and his promoter were unable to book other opponents.

Four years later, Manuel has reentered the ring and has managed to carry that initial momentum forward. In March, he prevailed against Hien Hyunh. The victory came down to a technical decision after the match was prematurely ended due to a cut Hyunh received in an accidental headbutt.

“There was some rust coming in, but I starting getting my rhythm,” Manuel said after his victory, per OutSports. “I’m just happy to be in this ring. This where I am supposed to be.”

His second match of the year (and third overall) took place last Thursday, where he once again beat out his cisgender opponent, Alex Gutierrez. This time, Manuel was the one to sustain a cut to the head, which ended the match in a technical victory in his favor.

His smashout reentry into the professional boxing circuit has him ranking 99th in the US and 782nd in the world overall, according to Gay Express. This brings him close to an official ranking from the sport’s governing body, World Boxing Council (WBC). But given the WBC’s recent stances on trans athletes, it is unclear whether he would be ranked alongside cisgender men.

Late last year, the WBC proposed amending its rules to ban trans athletes from participating in categories that correspond to their gender. The WBC followed this up by proposing completely separate categories for transgender boxers, a proposal which Manuel vehemently opposed.

“The WBC is inherently dehumanizing transgender people by implying that trans men aren’t men and trans women aren’t women,” he wrote on Instagram. “This rhetoric flies in the face of both existing policies at the highest level of governing bodies in the world of sports and my own lived experience.

“When I walk into the gym, I am treated no differently than any other man in all aspects of training – including the hard sparring that LA is known for. At a time of rising discrimination against transgender people in the United States, I am grateful to have received nothing but support and camaraderie from these boxers and their coaches, who have seen and respected me as the man I am.”

If he keeps up his winning streak, the WBC’s position on trans athletes will once again come to the fore. For now, Manuel will have to take at least 60 days off to recover from his cut before his next match.

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