Transgender wrestler seeks more acceptance – Mark J. Konkol

David Rosen broke the shocking news years ago — telling his wife and son that he just didn’t feel right in his own body.

After a divorce and a sex change operation, the old David was renamed and reconstructed into what the former wrestling champion considers a more comfortable self — Donna Rose.

“Many of us live as females or perceive ourselves as such, and there’s part of our old lives that are integral to who we are, and that’s difficult,” she says.

For Donna Rose, Gay Games VII is a test at intermingling who David Rosen was — a hard-body male wrestler who once was champion of Canada’s Maritime Provinces — with who she is today, a post-operative transsexual trying to gain more acceptance for people like herself.

She’s coming back to Chicago, her birthplace, for her first return to the wrestling mat in 27 years.

“Parts of my old life are important to me. . . . For much of my life, if you asked me what kind of person I was, I would have said ‘wrestler,'” she says. “Some people say, ‘Well, that’s not very feminine.’ But I don’t really care,” she says. “The thing that my transition got me is freedom to be myself.”

‘Welcome to compete’

Rose, who lives near Phoenix, Ariz., took some wrestling classes in San Francisco to relearn some moves, and hopes enough women sign up in her weight class — 180 pounds. Even finding a training partner is hard because “there’s not places for middle-aged women to go and compete when it comes to freestyle wrestling.”