Unofficially trans by Luca
Muay Thai fighter Luca tells the story of his battles inside and outside of the ring.
CW: Mention of domestic violence.
“Some of the coolest people have a secret identity...like Spiderman!”
My name is Luca, I use he/him pronouns and I am a fighter. I embraced my true self about 5 years ago. I am not out to everyone as a trans guy, but I am out to the queers and the cis people I trust. I am not taking T, I don’t really want to... although I am starting to develop an interest towards having top surgery.
To tell you a bit about myself, I grew up in Italy. I spent the first 19 years of my life in a town that has unfailingly felt too small to the many generations of young people born there. My experience in Italy was not a happy one: I struggled with my parents’ unhealthy relationship, my mum’s mental health, being constantly bullied and feeling like a complete outcast in any social situation, having undiagnosed ADHD through my childhood, being a total disaster in school and being beaten like a bag by my mum when I came out as a lesbian. I used a lot of drugs and alcohol at this time, I didn’t want to be in my body or my life.
On top of all this, I have always known I am a boy; it was just very difficult to prove it to the rest of the world since I had all the science and opinions against me. When I was a child I tried really hard to tell my parents, although I definitely didn’t have the language to explain what I was experiencing. I really tried my best to tell them. However, when I finally managed to make them understand that it wasn’t just a kids’ game it got too much for them. All my feelings towards my gender identity got swept away by their avalanche of fear, anxiety, aggression and “this bullshit needs to stop.” So I did
stop, and I buried it all. I thought I had buried it very deep but obviously, and thankfully, not deep enough.
The impact of this burying, and of the smallness of my home town, left me with bad mental health. Luckily, though, I managed to move to the UK where I found Muay Thai. I started training in 2015 and I cannot explain how different I feel since I started the sport. I went to my first class with the intention that I wanted to be a fighter and a year later I signed up for my first fight. I fucking loved it!
I think, perhaps, my mental health is part of why I love it. The violence I experienced in Italy and the impact of burying my true self for so long, has left me with night terrors, intrusive thoughts, paranoia and anxiety. I think of it as “my demon dog” - a huge black cluster of fangs, eyes, teeth, tongues, mouths and claws. That is what comes out of me when I fight.
I have come to the conclusion that the ring is the only space in the world where I can completely unleash all of my anger and trauma without having to face any consequences. Rules make it safe, my opponent consented to be there and a referee is there to stop the fight in case one of us cannot continue. The shouting of the crowd makes unleashing it all very exciting. I used to make myself disappear but now I let myself feel huge. For me, fighting is a way to express my embodied pain. There are no words that can explain it: just screaming and explosive movements. Allowing my body
to express this pain is healing, so is coming back harder and stronger when my opponent hurts me. I can attack and protect myself. I think I am reclaiming and transforming the violence I experienced. I am not out as a guy at the gym. Sometimes I feel a bit sad about it but in all honesty I can’t manage another coming out, and definitely not to the whole cis world. It would just make me really unwell... plus the gym is my happy place and I spend a total of 5-6 days per week training there. I love my
team mates, I love the family vibes between us and I love helping each other to prepare for a fight. The care that we all have for each other is something I never thought I would find in such a cis male dominated environment.
This sport has definitely contributed in a positive way to my mental health, together with having an incredibly supportive partner, positive friendships, medication, a lot of therapy and a very strong desire to get better. Muay thai has helped me to feel confident in my trans identity: I don’t get body dysphoria any more and I have found a way to heal. I hope my story makes it feel ok to be trans, a fighter and, at the same time, not to feel the pressure to be out to everyone (or anyone). Do what makes you feel comfortable and safe. I have found my path, I hope you can find yours.