In a sport brimming with toxic masculinity, it comes as little surprise when some of its most prominent figures remain intolerant with regards to sexuality and gender.
The latest example of such intolerance took place when retired UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov’s Russian manager shared a transphobic comment on social media.
Rizvan Magomedov, who is also the president of Dominance MMA Russia, took to Instagram to comment on President Joe Biden’s decision to appoint transgender physician Dr. Rachel Levine to his administration. Dr. Levine’s appointment makes her the highest-ranking openly transgender government official in US history
“Rest in peace, Great America,” Magomedov wrote in an Instagram story that featured a photo of Dr. Levine.
In her new role as assistant secretary of health at the Department of Health and Human Services, Dr. Levine is responsible for the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Health (OASH), which oversees the nation’s public health policy. She will also play a key role in overseeing the White House response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Prior to joining Biden’s administration, Dr. Levine served as the secretary of health for Pennsylvania for three years, and the state’s physician general before that. Yet despite being highly qualified for the role, the lion share of media attention has instead gone to Dr. Levine’s gender identity. While many have celebrated the decision to elevate voices from a community that has historically had little to no institutional power, others have used it as an opportunity to target Dr. Levine with a transphobic smear campaign that included dead-naming and misgendering her.
“I want to emphasize that while these individuals may think they are only expressing their displeasure with me, they are in fact hurting the thousands of LGBTQ Pennsylvanians who suffer directly from these current demonstrations of harassment,” Dr. Levine said in response to the attacks. “Your actions perpetuate a spirit of intolerance and discrimination against LGBTQ individuals and specifically transgender individuals.”
I feel that I must personally respond to the multiple incidents of #LGBTQ harassment and specifically transphobia directed at me.— Dr. Rachel Levine (@SecretaryLevine) July 28, 2020
Your actions perpetuate a spirit of intolerance and discrimination against LGBTQ individuals and specifically transgender individuals. pic.twitter.com/muX55irYkO
It is worth noting that Magomedov manages several MMA fighters who are affiliated to Ramzan Kadyrov, the Chechen dictator responsible for numerous anti-gay purges within Chechnya. His partner, Ali Abdel Aziz, has also defended Kadyrov’s anti-gay pogroms in the past, claiming that he doesn’t “believe anything the media says.”