Oklahoma State Athletic Commission weighs changing rules for transgender wrestlers

Photo Courtesy: Nyla Rose

The Oklahoma State Athletic Commission (OSAC) has considered changing its rules around transgender wrestlers performing in the state, per records recently obtained by Brandon Thurston of Wrestlenomics.

News broke last month that the OSAC took issue with Nyla Rose, a transgender woman who performs for AEW and its secondary brand ROH, wrestling a cisgender woman during a show in late 2023 that fell under the commission’s watch.

OSAC, which oversees professional wrestling in the state, incorrectly considered the match an intergender bout, which is not allowed under the commission’s current roles. Because of this, the commission issued a warning to AEW “to not do this again or there will be punitive action.”

Emails uncovered by Wrestlenomics have revealed that the commission might soon review its policies surrounding transgender wrestlers. In an email exchange dated early this year between OSAC administrator Jim Miller and representatives from AEW, a mention of the rule possibly being altered is made.

“For your information the Commission is currently in discussion to possibly change this rule,” Miller told AEW in an email. “However if it is determined by the Commission that the rule should be changed it will have to go thru [sic] the legislative process for rule-making and would not be in effect until July 2024.”

It was not specified what exactly about the rule could be changed or what details have been mentioned during discussions within the commission. A change could hypothetically include an allowance of transgender wrestlers in its gender-based rules around wrestling, or it could entirely get rid of the rules around what genders could face each other in matches.

Miller later asked AEW General Counsel Alissa Harrington whether the promotion agrees to the correction issued by the commission, or if they plan to make an argument at a hearing from the commission.

“AEW agrees to the correction,” Harrington replied. “If you have any further questions or concerns, please let [AEW SVP Chris] Harrington and me know.”

AEW returned to Oklahoma since the early January warning issued by the commission. The promotion hosted an event in Tusla in February, but Rose didn’t appear on the card. ROH, the brand that she has mainly competed on since late last year, didn’t tape matches on the show.

Since the early 2024 exchange, Miller has left the administrator role at the OSAC and been replaced by Diana Fletcher. When asked whether the commission plans to address the policy, Fletcher declined to comment. She mentioned that the agenda for OSAC’s next meeting, which will take place on July 10, will be available publicly at some point.

Once knowledge of OSAC’s warning became public last month, AEW head Tony Khan expressed disappointment with the commission.

“I don’t think we did anything wrong,” said Khan during a media call in mid-April. “I’m really, really shocked by it. I don’t think there should be discrimination against transgender wrestlers or transgender people at all. They have rights. And to that end, I absolutely stand by Nyla Rose. AEW stands by Nyla Rose and all transgender people who want to play sports. This is wrestling. There was nothing wrong with it.”

Wrestlenomics report showed that the OSAC received two complaints after Rose competed on a December 2023 show in the state. Brandan Bulmer, who works for Unified Wrestling Oklahoma, argued that he would receive punishment if he was the promoter in question. Caleb White, a fellow promoter, also contacted the commission, citing frustrations with consistency from their sanctions on promoters.

When asked for comment, White told Wrestlenomics that wasn’t “coming down on trans [people in] wrestling,” but instead believes that rules should be enforced equally or not enforced at all.

About Jack Wannan 246 Articles
Jack Wannan is a journalist from Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He writes and reports on professional wrestling, along with other topics like MMA, boxing, music, local news, and more. He graduated from Toronto Metropolitan University in 2023 with a bachelor's degree in journalism. He can be reached at [email protected]