Trans Boxing Brooklyn is the first exclusively transgender and gender non-conforming boxing class in New York City. The group’s founder, Nola Hanson, had been in search of a boxing class that fostered the trans and queer community.
“This past summer in Bushwick, two trans women were attacked after leaving a bar,” Hanson explains in a video posted to the Bushwick Daily YouTube channel. “There’s a lot of violence and attacks. There’s a huge need for trans people to have the skills that boxing can provide and there’s just a complete barrier to access … within the world of boxing.”
“I’d never boxed before doing this, and I was never able to do anything like that before. [I was] never able to have that kind of power,” one participant explains.
It wasn’t just a way for Hanson to connect with the boxing world, but a way to connect with the queer and trans community as well. “I had been looking for a queer [or] trans boxing class or space in the city and found that one didn’t exist,” Hanson explains. “I was also finding that I wasn’t very connected to the queer and trans community in Brooklyn, too.”
Hanson pitched the class to Mario Marin, owner and head coach at Red Planet Muay Thai, who opened his studio doors to the group without hesitation. “I was connected to Mario through a friend so I approached him about the idea,” Hanson says, “and he was just really down and was open to doing a donation based class.”
“I was looking to do something positive, dedicate some donation time,” Marin says. “What I hope to achieve is to spread these sports to all members of society. It’s something that’s very much needed and you don’t realize this need until you get those ‘thank yous’.”
Hanson believes the class and expertise in boxing learned is not only a way for transgender people to protect themselves, but also for trans people to live more fully in their own bodies.
“You know I think that trans people can uniquely benefit from this sport in a way that is related very much to the experience of embodiment,” Hanson describes. “When I started boxing, I came back into my body you know for the first time in a while. I think that trans people, a lot of our experience is fighting against our bodies and the sport of boxing requires you to fully and deliberately occupy your own body.”