Nyla Rose locking in a hold on Willow Nightingale. | All Elite Wrestling

The Oklahoma State Athletic Commission is under fire after details from its most recent quarterly meeting surfaced Wednesday displaying transphobic language and a threat of punishment targeting All Elite Wrestling stemming from its first event in the state last year that featured Nyla Rose.

The uproar came after a portion of the minutes from the OSAC’s Jan. 3, 2024 meeting made the rounds on social media Wednesday night.

The document outlined a conversation regarding the participation of former AEW Women’s World champion Nyla Rose in a match at the company’s first event in Oklahoma on Dec. 20, 2023. Rose wrestled Alejandra Lion in a match taped for AEW’s sibling company Ring of Honor on that night in Oklahoma City.

According to the document, now-retired OSAC director Jim Miller brought up the topic during the meeting, saying that he contacted AEW after Rose’s trans identity was brought to his attention by a local independent wrestling promotion while self-reporting its own violation of the OSAC’s ban on intergender wrestling.

The OSAC’s definition of intergender wrestling lies at the crux of the situation. In its Wrestling Application, the OSAC equates gender and sex in its rules against intergender wrestling.

“The Commission will not approve sanctioning permits between human participants and non-humans or between males and females. A male participant is a person of the heterogametic sex born with XY chromosomes. A female participant is a person born of the homogametic sex with XX chromosomes.”

Under OSAC rules, Rose would be classified as a male wrestler despite identifying as a woman for years, hence why the organization found AEW in violation.

Putting aside the multiple national health bodies that support the different definitions of sex and gender and the fact that the rule’s language is reductive toward those definitions, its discriminatory nature goes beyond the transphobic use in this specific situation. What if an intersex wrestler wanted to apply to wrestle in Oklahoma? What if a wrestler has a chromosomal disorder? The rule doesn’t account for that.

The other obvious logical pitfall is that pro wrestling is a scripted form of entertainment. Matches are predetermined, wrestlers portray characters and the presentation is a mix of athleticism and performance. Knowing this, why would the OSAC or any athletic commission regulate pro wrestling in the same way it would the UFC?

Arguments can be made for commissions making sure proper healthcare resources or other regulatory measures like following fire codes, ensuring occupancy maximums and/or making sure rings and other equipment used during a pro wrestling event are safe for wrestlers and fans, but extending that to the actual presentation, especially in the case where it carries transphobic and other discriminatory connotations, begs for reassessment.

The document also notes the transphobic nature of the conversation during the meeting itself. Rose is misgendered multiple times by OSAC commissioners and OSAC chairman Mike Bower made the suggestion that a question asking if applicants have undergone gender reassignment should be added to the state’s wrestler application “so this doesn’t happen again in the future.” The OSAC applications for boxing, kickboxing and MMA already included such a question.

The gender reassignment question is now present on the OSAC’s wrestler application.

Ultimately the OSAC decided to warn AEW for the violation, stating that another violation would result in punitive damages. According to the Oklahoma State Athletic Commissions Act, any person found to violate OSAC rules faces a misdemeanor conviction, can be fined up to $1,000 and spend up to 30 days in jail. Violators could also face an additional fine of up to $500 or up to 1% of gross revenues received pending a commission hearing.

The emergence of the document spawned heavy criticism within pro wrestling circles once it surfaced with many expressing support for Rose and spreading the word about how to contact the OSAC to file complaints.

Rose herself poked fun at the issue before acknowledging all of the supportive messages from fans and fellow wrestlers alike.

Her coworkers at AEW didn’t mince words when expressing their disdain with the OSAC online.

AEW founder Tony Khan addressed the issue during a media call ahead of this weekend’s “AEW Dynasty” pay-per-view event. When asked by WrestleJoy’s Amy Nemmity about the OSAC’s ruling, Khan expressed support for Rose and transgender wrestlers as a whole.

“I was disappointed by the commission’s position and by that warning,” Khan said. “I don’t think we did anything wrong … 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.”

Khan echoed that sentiment in a statement provided to Outsports.

“We were disappointed by the Oklahoma State Athletic Commission’s position and warning.  There simply should not be a climate in professional wrestling, or anywhere in our society, where transgender people face discrimination.  AEW stands behind Nyla Rose, as well as all transgender athletes and transgender people, who are impacted by discrimination.”

Khan was noncommittal when asked by DailyDDT’s Samantha Schipman if the ruling would inform AEW’s decision to run events in Oklahoma in the future, saying that he wanted to support AEW fans in Oklahoma but that any plans to run in Oklahoma was a “developing story.” The company doesn’t currently have any events announced within the state.

A group of Oklahoma-based pro wrestlers, including out LGBTQ wrestlers Logan Knight and Malik Mayfield, have also begun organizing an effort to challenge the OSAC’s intergender wrestling ban at a hearing scheduled for July 10.

“I think intergender wrestling is fantastic because it creates a ton of new mediums for storytelling and entertainment purposes. I hate that the commission here in Oklahoma doesn’t allow it because honestly it could be making them a whole lot more money,” Knight told Real Rasslin. “The line of thinking with the commission is incredibly outdated because they base this ruling on [the] thought that women could never compete with men athletically and I personally don’t find it true.”

Knight also discussed issues with the OSAC during an appearance on the LGBT In The Ring podcast last month. “I personally want to try and do what I can to make Oklahoma a place that people want to wrestle,” Knight said. “I want to wrestle for more queer-inclusive brands this year because that doesn’t really exist in Oklahoma because there is a commission here and dudes aren’t even allowed to wrestle women here. You can already imagine the issues that are arising from that. It makes it very hard for any barriers to be crossed.”

A Request for comment sent to the OSAC by Outsports was not returned.