IMPACT Wrestling star Gisele Shaw has left her mark on the pro wrestling company’s Knockouts division in her first year, challenging for multiple titles and developing a unique on-screen tandem with fellow out wrestler Jai Vidal.
But her time with IMPACT included a major personal moment for her as well when she came out as trans last year during Pride month. Now, Shaw delves deeper into her personal journey within pro wrestling and her trans identity in the latest episode of IMPACT Wrestling’s “Diary” series.
The YouTube series features IMPACT Wrestling stars recounting their path to pro wrestling stardom while giving viewers deeply personal looks into the life events that shaped them into the people they are today, and Shaw’s is no different.
Shaw and her siblings recount her early struggles to understand exactly who she was against a backdrop of cultural ignorance about transgender identities and outright vitriol that trans people historically faced due to that ignorance. “The Quintessential Diva” explains the fear of being clocked (of not passing) alongside the real terror of not knowing if that may lead to bodily injury or death.
“There’s always that voice inside me that’s like ‘Oh my God, Oh my God.’ It’s just,like, anxiety, you know. That’s why I wanted to tell my story; so that I could get rid of that. So I could be free,” Shaw said.
It speaks to the hypervigilance trans, gender-diverse and gender non-conforming people live with daily that isn’t always understood by their cisgender counterparts. This is best represented in the episode by IMPACT Wrestling president Scott D’Amore’s statement about realizing the toll that practice takes on a person.
“When she told me that part of this was so that she didn’t have to sit in a restaurant, a coffee shop, a park and constantly be scanning and looking like ‘Who knows? Who’s looking? Who’s thinking what about me?’ I was just, like, fuck,” D’Amore said. “She never gets to shut off, gets to relax.”
The episode also explores the historic and often dehumanizing practice of race, gender and sexuality influencing pro wrestling characters and Shaw’s success in pro wrestling transcending stereotypes on her way to the moment when she came out last year during Toronto Pride.
Most importantly though, the episode bathes in trans joy, understanding that the trans experience, and the greater LGBTQ experience, isn’t solely defined by struggle. The images of Shaw marching in the Toronto Pride parade, interacting with other IMPACT stars and knocking off competitors’ blocks with her finishing knee strike paints an image of trans power that is needed now more than ever as trans identities remain under attack across the nation.
“You only live once, so why not give it your 1,000% and go after what you really love,” Shaw said. “Any little change, like Gisele coming out with her story, that could change the trajectory of wrestling as a whole,” added former IMPACT and current WWE star Mia Yim.
Check out “Diary: Gisele Shaw” on IMPACT Wrestling’s official YouTube channel as Shaw prepares to challenge for the IMPACT Knockouts World title at “Multiverse United” on March 30 in Los Angeles.