(IN 2016, THE INTERNATIONAL
OLYMPIC COMMITTEE RULED THAT (TRANSGENDER ATHLETES
COULD COMPETE (WITHOUT UNDERGOING SURGERY. (THIS POLICY MADE HISTORY IN
THE SPORTS WORLD, WELCOMING (A NEW GENERATION OF ATHLETES
INTO THE OLYMPIC FAMILY. (PAT MANUEL, A HIGHLY DECORATED
AMATEUR BOXER, (MISSED THIS RULING
BY FOUR YEARS. (THIS IS HIS STORY.) In a boxing match, it’s like everything
is right with my world. When I have my gloves on,
I feel connected to… to my ancestors. When I hear boxing, I hear
the rhythm of the people… ..and when I smell boxing,
that’s my favourite scent, smelling the gym
and the hard work… ..smelling the old leather –
that’s always a scent that brings nostalgia and excitement for the future
for me. When I see boxing itself,
I really see myself reflected. (IDENTIFY) I knew it before I knew words
that I wasn’t… I wasn’t a girl, and for a lot of trans people
I talk to it’s something they knew
as a kid. I grew up in Gardena,
California. It’s a small city in south LA. It’s near, like, Compton,
Carson, Torrance area. I mean, it’s hard to say, like,
what’s a typical childhood. I grew up with my mom,
my grandma, my older sister, and two of my uncles. I think we get used
to what normal is. You get into school and people start reinforcing
what is a boy and a girl, that it really felt like
I was somewhere in between all of that. “Why do you keep labelling
me as a girl?” Eventually, over time,
that gets beaten into you, so you finally submit to it, and you’re like,
“OK, I am a girl.” When puberty started hitting,
suddenly my body was doing all the things that I didn’t feel comfortable
with at all. Periods – I don’t want any
part of that. Like, I remember crying when
I first got my period. It was like a mark of, like,
whether you want it or not, you’re being labelled a woman
for the rest of your life. I definitely kind of withdrew
within myself when I was in high school. I think there was this sensing, the sensing that I was
masculine, I was different. My friend group got a lot
smaller, and I really kind of pulled
away from everyone, would just stop caring
about everything. So I tried to do the only thing
I could to kind of pull myself
together, and it was actually during
this period that I found the sport. The right first? You’re going
to go throw the right first? I’m going to throw
the right first. Step. Hands up high. It’s an individual sport, but
actually it’s a team sport also because all the kids
push each other. A lot of them were in trouble, but the discipline is
the number one thing. It’s changed a lot of these
kids’ lives. (COACH VIC) I’d seen Pat box
in a tournament I’m going to say about
ten years ago or so at Lincoln Heights. I’d just started training
female fighters, so I was kind of looking
at the females, and I’d seen Pat fight.
Pat had a lot of raw talent. Two more on top. Pat’s a very aggressive
fighter. Great condition, and doesn’t
fight like a girl. Pat’s stronger, more physical, learned how to punch
a lot harder and just is aggressive. Boxes like a man. Is now a man. I knew that I had to make
my body look like a fighter’s, and the only way I knew how to
do that was to actually start fighting. It was first time
in a long time that I felt comfortable
being me, because I was learning how to
move my body and be present in a way
that I never had, and was able to do something
that made me feel good. It was really actually
the confidence from boxing that made me start exploring
my queer identity. Honestly, probably more than
half of the boxers don’t even know that
Pat was a female. (COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO) My name is Lynette Smith. I’m the Assistant Executive
Director of USA Boxing. I work with athletes,
coaches, officials to promote Olympic boxing
across the country. (PAT MANUEL VS TIARA BROWN, (2008 USA NATIONAL BOXING –
WOMEN’S 132LB) Get low, Patricia. Oh, sure I’m happy
to talk about Patricia Manuel as a boxer. Excellent boxer.
She was formidable… I think would be the word. I mean, absolutely Olympic
trials-quality athlete. The Olympic dream… The Olympic dream, I guess, was attached to
me being a female athlete. Back in 2010, the IOC announced that they
would include women’s boxing in the Olympics. So we were like,
“Let’s make history, “let’s go to the Olympics.” That was the thing that kept me
back from transitioning for a long time – was my fear
of losing eligibility to compete.
I wanted to go to the Olympics. I wanted to represent. I wanted to represent as
an out queer athlete It really took, though, losing the 2012
Olympic boxing trials for me to really grab
on that I was trans. In sport, there are obviously
serious ramifications with regard to
gender classification, and, with us, weight class
and so forth, but my first real interactions
with Pat were when he had
questions about changing his designation as an
athlete from female to male. Lynette helped me switch
everything over and kind of actually created
a policy for USA Boxing. I don’t think they ever dealt
with a trans athlete who had been established as
a female athlete and was transitioning over to
the male division. I needed to be true to myself. This whole, like, female stuff
is bullshit. I don’t believe in it. There’s life outside of sports. There’s life outside of just
boxing, so I decided, “Let’s do it. “Let’s go full in and actually
medically transition “rather than just socially
transitioning.” So I took those questions to
the USOC. They helped me with that, and they actually take their
direction from the International Olympic
Committee, the IOC. So we worked together and got all of that information
together, and then I passed it back
to Pat. And then the next step
was like, what did I want to do about
that? Did I want to still compete
in the female division as a trans man? Or did I want to go for
competing in the male division, which is something in boxing
I never knew anyone had done? For Pat to change from
female designation to male, you had to be recognised in
your state by a government agency of your new designation,
your new gender. We had to get reports. You had
to have medical clearance with regard to
if surgery was performed, to levels of different hormones
in your body, and he sought information
from me so that we could take care
of it and he could actually
participate as a new gender in USA Boxing. It’s like, “BLEEP it.
I’ve done a lot in life. “I’m going to start
the hormones “and I’m just going to go
for it “I’m going to see what
happens.” (AFTER DECIDING TO MEDICALLY
TRANSITION, (PAT TOOK TWO YEARS OFF
TO UNDERGO HORMONE THERAPY (IN ORDER TO COMPLY WITH
USA BOXING REGULATION. (IN 2016, PAT IS OFFICIALLY
ABLE TO COMPETE (IN THE MALE DIVISION.) (PAT’S HOME,
LONG BEACH, CALIFORNIA) Currently I’m just training to kind of get back in
the swing of things, get back to doing a couple
more amateur fights. My coach, Vic, is the one that
makes the decision if I turn pro or not. I’m hoping to sway him
with really good performances in my amateur bouts. I know he’ll tell me
I’m ready when he knows that I’m actually ready. Today is my boxing club, Duarte Boxing,
annual boxing show. If I get a fight today, this would be my second time
fighting in the male division, but I’ve also had over 50 sanctioned amateur
bouts previously, so this isn’t my first rodeo,
that’s for sure. Definitely had some
issues before that hints at
there may have been people not wanting to engage with me
in a match because of transphobia,
but, you know, it’s never fully verified. It’s just suddenly someone
lost interest in competing against me. So, you know,
we just take it… we take it one fight at a time and just try to just keep
trying until we get…
we get the match done. I think a couple of times that
we’ve had some bouts fall out is because they found out. Honestly, I think that… ..they were just afraid
that they were going to lose, and… to a former female fighter. And we go to these shows
not saying anything. We just… put Pat up as a male fighter,
and that’s it on the board. (PAT’S OPPONENT WAS A NO-SHOW. (THERE WAS NO REASON GIVEN
FOR HIS ABSENCE.) It shouldn’t matter
what I identify as, if I’m transgender
or cisgender. If I’m in the male division, I am open for you to compete,
and that should be it. (BOYLE HEIGHTS, CA) How long of a walk
do you want to do? Probably like 15. We did 30 last time so… OK, so we don’t have to
be there until, like, 11. Well, I’m going to get ready. Amita is my girlfriend
of a year and a half. She’s been definitely one of
my biggest supporters, not just in boxing, but in kind
of every aspect of my life. I actually met Pat
at a community mixer for LGBTQ people of colour
here in Los Angeles. I was trying to expand
my own network, and we were in a small
discussion group together, and I was just like realising that I was starting to have
feelings for him. It was very unexpected. Are you sure
you don’t want some? No, I’m good, thanks. It’s actually been a lot
trickier than I expected, being able to date
post-medically transitioning, but, luckily, I have a queer
girlfriend, so I don’t have to
worry about that as much. I guess I don’t think of it
as significantly different than dating anyone else, because everyone
is a different person, so it’s hard for me
to think about some experience or something of dating a transgender man
as opposed to anyone else that I’ve dated. Ginko, come, come. She is not having it today. As I’ve grown up, and when I also was presenting
gender nonconforming, there were instances
in Long Beach where I was mistaken as a
feminine man and attempted to be gay-bashed. Fortunately for myself,
I could fight, so anyone that made that
mistake ended up finding themselves laid out. Sit. Good girl. Because he passes nowadays more
and more as a cisgender man and is seen as someone
who can fight, even if people don’t know that
he’s a boxer, just how he moves through
the world and through spaces, what I’ve noticed most of all
is that the level of harassment from cisgender men
has significantly decreased when I’m standing next to Pat. Come, Ginko. What’s he doing? Honestly, I’ll say right now,
I’m not satisfied until all of my other comrades are
also like, “Yup, that’s good, we’re good.
We feel represented. “We feel that it’s actually
equal and fair for us.” You look at the demographics
of boxing – it’s people who are struggling
in one way or the other. You come into the sport usually
because something’s going on that’s driving you to want
to fight. Boxing represents me
in so many ways that nothing else
ever have I ever seen does. If someone could sum me up
with one word, it would be a fighter. (DUARTE BOXING GYM) You’ve got five pounds
to lose by Friday. That’s easy. So since we didn’t get
the fight Saturday, what’s going to be next
on the agenda? We’re going to try and get a
fight this Friday in Pasadena. I talked to Fausto,
who’s putting on the show, and he’s going to try to
see about getting you a match, so there’s a good chance we’re
going to get a fight. – OK.
– Hopefully we get a fight, and we start getting ready for
our next big tournament. I’m hoping we just stay busy
the rest of this year, and then keep moving forward
to the next step on in 2017. Hopefully next year we turn
professional. That’s what I wanted to hear. Gosh, it gives me chills just
to talk about it now, but for Pat to think or to
feel that I had a role in his being able to continue
boxing, it makes me so joyful. He’s a great guy, and that’s what I’ve told Pat
from the beginning. “You’re just one of the guys. “You belong up there.” I know boxing
is Pat’s first love. It’s just my role as someone
who loves him to support him, and to help him in whatever way
I can to achieve his dreams. My name is Patricio Manuel. And I’m just getting started.