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Transgender Boxing: Frank Maloney vs. Kellie Maloney

Transgender Boxing: Frank Maloney vs. Kellie Maloney
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By Don Portolese

Tackling one of the most difficult matches of his career, famed boxing promoter and coach, Frank Maloney, finally came clean about who he really was. After a 30 year career in one of the manliest sports around, at the ripe young age of 61, Maloney finally revealed his desire to be a woman.

Frank (now Kellie) led WBC Heavy Weight Champion Lennox Lewis to the peak of his career until last October when he became disenchanted with the sport. Once out of boxing, she was able to come out on a more important level. Maloney claims that like other people struggling with their sexual or gender identity, she chose what many consider to be one of the most macho sports to bury her desires deep down. This is common among many who seek to hide their true sexual orientation.

In addition to burying her secret desires in the macho world of boxing, she also covered them up in two marriages. She was twice married and has three children. And like so many others, she also attempted to hide these desires through self -medication. Alcohol and drugs often play a role in our attempts to deceive ourselves into believing these unwanted urges may simply go away. Abuse of drugs is either a means of punishment for these “impure” desires or a way to forget.

Closer to home we have our own Chris (now Kristin) Beck. Hers is another story of a man who buried himself so deep within the realm of what is macho, that no one even suspected the person he kept hidden inside even existed. After serving in the armed forces for 20 years, part of that time as a Navy Seal, she finally made her transgender desires known.

Kristin passed some of the most rigorous training in the armed forces. She won a Purple Heart and Bronze Star among many other metals of valor. While in the army she followed the army’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell mantra to the letter, never disclosing her secret desires. However, after retirement from the Seals, she finally opened up and began her transformation. She is now passing the bravest test of her life.

While both of these men had the courage to admit their transgender desires to themselves and the rest of the world, there is no doubt that both have faced hatred and bigotry on a variety of levels. This has a lot to do with how little we as a society understand sexuality.

The fact of the matter is there are a good many people who are in denial regarding their sexual orientation. A recent government survey says that about 3% of the population admits to being gay, bisexual or transgender. The current and past presidents of ALGBTIC, Jane Rheineck and Mark Pope, both believe this figure to be substantially lower than it is in actuality.

Many people keep these desires buried so far down, that they really don’t understand what their sexual orientation is. Some bury them in religion. Others try to bury them in conservative professions or locations hoping that a less tolerant environment will help to keep these urges at bay. Still others become vehement gay or transgender bashers who carry out their own self-loathing on others in violent and hateful ways.

The reality is that these feelings simply don’t go away. There is no cure or vaccination that can be administered. And until we understand that, many more people will be victims of the same societal pressures and bigotry that prevent them from being who they really are. Ask either of these men whether during their long battles they would have preferred a cure rather than going through what they have gone through and I’m sure they would have answered, yes.

However, when we truly consider what it means to be a “man” in our society, isn’t it far better to be honest with yourself and others than to live behind a veneer of falsehood? Isn’t that what our society expects of its men (and women)? Like so many other aspects of people’s lives, we can agree or disagree about the choices people make for themselves. However, it seems that many of us are finally realizing that choices of this nature should be up to the individual.

Fortunately, there is a silver lining to the difficulties both of these men have dealt with. Although they had to endure their share of hostile reactions and bigotry, there are a good many of their friends and peers who congratulated and even joked with them about their new identities.

One of Kristin’s peers had this to say: “You’re a Team Guy, first and foremost, and you always will be. I’ll drink a beer with you anytime, anywhere, for any reason, no matter how you are dressed … especially if you are buying.” Frank Maloney received this comment via Twitter: “I wish Frank Maloney (now Kellie) the very best. Being who he wants to be after 61 years, nobody deserves to begrudge him happiness.”

It took both of these people until middle age before they could come to terms with their true selves. Perhaps with the relaxation of societal pressures and a more open approach to sexual orientation, others will be able to understand and actualize who they truly are much sooner.

I wish them and all who suffer from the need to keep their true selves hidden the strength and courage that these two women have. Hats off to Kelly and Kristin!

 

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