Former WWE superstar Gabbi Tuft, who wrestled under the ring name Tyler Reks, on Friday came out as transgender.
She took to social media to make the announcement to her fans with an emotional post on Instagram with a photo prior to her transition.
“This is me,” she wrote in the caption. “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,” she wrote. “I can now say with confidence, that I love myself for WHO I am.”
Tuft bid goodbye to the ring in 2014, having started wrestling from 2007, and has made appearances on WWE Superstars, WWE Raw, WWE SmackDown as well as WWE Wrestlemania. Post her retirement from wrestling, she spent most of her time with her wife, Priscilla, and daughter, and began a career as a fitness coach and motivational speaker.
“I felt so happy,” she recalled the moment to NBC News.
“My hair wasn’t in my face, and I wasn’t clenching my fists and hiding my nails. It just felt so amazing.”
“The previous eight months have been some of the darkest of my entire life,” she wrote in her Instagram post, talking about her battles with mental health.
“The pain was overwhelming,” she told NBC News, adding that she wrestled with suicidal thoughts.
“I was that person that was always preaching, ‘Never care what people think, go be yourself. Then when it came to be my turn, it was so much more difficult than I ever imagined,” she said.
Gabbi Tuft started a countdown of her coming out on her social media with the help of her wife. Now she has promised to be ‘transparent’ about her process and along with her wife, she is doing a podcast titled ‘Her’.
“I don’t ever want anyone to think that the way I did it is the way that everyone should do it. I don’t think there’s a blueprint for this,” she said.
“The rest of the world is transitioning, too, it’s not just me,” she said. “I can’t expect an overnight change from everyone.”
Tuft also thanked everyone for all the support she received after coming out, with her neighbours sending her flowers as well as good wishes from her fans.
“It tells me that there is so much love in this world still,” she said.
“I never expected to have an ear-to-ear smile for the last 24 hours, but I can’t get the smile off my face. It’s from the heart, and it’s from the soul, and I never expected to feel this elated,” she said.