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Transgender, non-binary and gender non-confirming boxing group promotes community building

Chella, 22, engages in a sparring match at Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn. He has been a part of Trans Boxing for a few months. April 15, 2022. Photo by Nathan Morris

While Nolan Hanson was taking time off from competing in amateur boxing due to a wrist injury that required surgery, he began thinking of ways to stay involved in the sport he loved. During that time, he was also thinking about medically transitioning.

Hanson started Trans Boxing in 2017 as an experimental project that offers an unconventional approach to a boxing club by encouraging the participation of transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming individuals in the sport of boxing. 

“We’re not there solely because we are trans,” Hanson said. “We are there to box and to be integrated into the boxing community. With Trans Boxing, people connect to it because they love the sport.”

Hanson wants to normalize the integration of the transgender community into an often cisgender dominated sport to bring boxers of all identities together. Now, boxers from outside the trans community have joined in to help newcomers of the group. 

“Naturally, it has opened up to build allyship and further support for the community as a team,” he said.

The group encourages anyone who feels there is no place for them to join, regardless of gender identity, as it seeks to connect all people and promote team and community building through a vulnerable sport like boxing.

A sparring match between two members of the Trans Boxing group at Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn. April 15, 2022. Photo by Nathan Morris

Nolan Hanson, founder of Trans Boxing. The group offers a space for members of the trans community, as well as members outside of the community to receive boxing training in a judgment-free and supportive environment, while also bringing people together. April 15, 2022. Photo by Nathan Morris

Members of the Trans Boxing group talking amongst each other at Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn. They said this group has allowed them to meet people in the community as well as allies. One ally to the community is Naiky, 27, pictured sitting on the edge of the ring. She joined to help the group with sparring. April 15, 2022. Photo by Nathan Morris

Nolan Hanson praises Sab, 21, for his work in the ring at Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn. April 15, 2022. Photo by Nathan Morris

Sab is a member of Trans Boxing. He has always wanted to try boxing. To him, the group provides a positive and healthy environment for him to train and learn the sport. April 15, 2022. Photo by Nathan Morris

Tyce, 24, participates in the Trans Boxing group at Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn. He said the culture of boxing always made him nervous to take part, mainly due to the stereotypes of hyper-masculinity surrounding the sport. With Trans Boxing, he said he can finally try boxing in an atmosphere where he can be himself. April 15, 2022. Photo by Nathan Morris

Chella Man joined Trans Boxing four months ago. A well-known activist in the trans community and an advocate for disability awareness, as he is deaf, he said he searched for a judgment-free and safe space to engage in sports, while training with other members and allies of the community. With this group, he said he found it. April 15, 2022. Photo by Nathan Morris

Chella sparring in the ring at Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn. April 15, 2022. Photo by Nathan Morris

Chella was hit in the nose and got a nosebleed at Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn. He still continued to spar, his nosebleed coming back shortly after. April 15, 2022. Photo by Nathan Morris

Members and allies of Trans Boxing in the ring at Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn. The group consists of trans, non-binary, and gender non-conforming individuals, as well as allies who would like to participate. April 15, 2022. Photo by Nathan Morris

A pin that says “Protect Trans Youth” on a backpack that sits on the edge of the boxing ring. The colors of the pin represent the transgender flag. April 15, 2022. Photo by Nathan Morris