“I can now say with confidence that I love myself for WHO I am.”
This is what former World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) superstar Gabbi Tuft proudly said as she came out as transgender on Thursday, Feb. 4.
Tuft was best known under the ring name Tyler Reks or T.Reks. According to WWE, she debuted in 2007 and rose to fame in 2010 as a “key member of the triumphant Team SmackDown at WWE Bragging Rights.” She battled in WWE mega TV events such “Superstars,” “Raw,” “SmackDown” and “WrestleMania.”
WWE dubbed her as “The Dreadlocked Demolition Man” with an intimidating look and “devastating signature maneuver” that could crush his opponents.
Despite all her success during and after her WWE career, Tuft was still wrestling with a secret persona dwelling deep within her, according to the press release announcing her coming out. Tuft first announced it in an Instagram post on Feb. 4.
She wrote, “This is me. Unashamed, unabashedly me. This is the side of me that has hidden in the shadows, afraid and fearful of what the world would think; afraid of what my family, friends, and followers would say or do.”
“I am no longer afraid and I am no longer fearful. I can now say with confidence, that I love myself for WHO I am,” Tuft said.
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She also revealed that keeping her true identity a secret has posed a grave threat to her mental health. “The previous eight months have been some of the darkest of my entire life. The emotional turmoil of being transgender and having to face the world has almost ended me on multiple occasions,” she said in her coming-out post.
She explained it further in an interview with NBC. “The pain was overwhelming,” she said, adding that she struggled with suicidal ideation. “I was that person that was always preaching, ‘Never care what people think, go be yourself,’” she said. “Then when it came to be my turn, it was so much more difficult than I ever imagined.”
The 42-year-old wrestler admitted that she has her wife, Priscilla, to thank for motivating her to come out as transgender.
She continued, “My loving wife, family, and closest friends have accepted me for who I am. To them, I am forever grateful. Your support along the way means more than you will ever know.”
While Tuft understands the she is not in the place to “change any of your beliefs,” she simply wants to be “truthful and transparent” about her transition to create awareness and be “a light to those that are in need.”
“All I want to do is create empathy and maybe through empathy, we can gain some understanding, and we can reduce the amount of fear and then slowly make a change,” Tuft told NBC. “I think the more relatable that I am, the more that we can create that empathy and build a relationship with people that are watching so that they know they're not alone.”