Trigger warning: Transphobic language (especially in quotes and if you follow the links). I apologise if I've used transphobic language myself through ignorance; please feel free to call me on it.
So I thought I'd bring this up for comment.Mixed Martial Arts
is a full-contact sport variously described along the lines of "real" pro-wrestling, cage fighting or kickboxing with takedowns and submissions. It is in essence a codified example of a JCVD movie from the 1980's where martial artists from across the spectrum compete with each other to prove which style/fighter is the best (in truth the "style vs style" aspect dominated early MMA in North America although as it's grown the emphasis is now on athlete vs athlete). These days the largest and most notable promoter is the UFC
For most of its modern history MMA has been almost entirely a male sport. Women did compete but not on the main shows and not for much money. Over recent years that's changed; the UFC has recently had it's first women's fights and women's champion and women's MMA as a whole has been getting more attention than ever, to the extent that Ronda Rousey
, an Olympic Judo bronze medalist and the current UFC women's champion is one of the biggest names in MMA and a woman's only promotion
can do pretty well for itself.
Which brings us to Fallon Fox.
Fallon Fox has a professional record of only 2-0, fighting on small shows, but has become one of the biggest and controversial names in MMA. The reason?
I'll leave it to her wiki
article to explain:
After leaving college Fox worked as a trucker to gain money for her gender reassignment surgery. Eventually Fox moved to Chicago, Illinois with her daughter. In 2006 Fox traveled to Bangkok, Thailand and underwent gender reassignment surgery , breast augmentation and hair transplant surgeries at the Bangkok International Hospital.
Fallon Fox came out publicly on March 5, 2013, after her two initial professional fights in an interview with OutSports writer Cyd Zeigler and sportsillustrated.com. Controversy swelled over confusion with the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) and Florida’s athletic commission over the licensing process Fox chose to complete in Coral Gables. After publications shed light on the licensing procedure and Fox’s coming out many commentators brought up the issue of whether a person born as a male should be able to fight in women’s divisions in MMA fighting. Most notably UFC color commentator Joe Rogan came out in strong opposition to Fallon Fox receiving licensing on his podcast The Joe Rogan Experience. Video of those statements circulated online leading many other publications and blogs to report on the issue. Due to controversy and the licensing procedure CFA co-founder Jorge De La Noval, who promoted Fallon's fight on March 2 in Florida has postponed Fox’s April 20th, fight. De La Voal has stated since however his organization will not “turn our backs on her… As long as she's licensed, she's always welcome in our promotion. We stand behind her and we give her all of our support.". Fox claimed in her video interview with Cyd Zeigler to be within the rules of organizations like the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for postoperative transsexuals and wishes to continue fighting in MMA.
On April 8, 2013, Matt Mitrione, in an appearance on "The MMA Hour", publicly expressed his dislike regarding Fox. Saying that Fox was "still a man," Mitrione called her an "embarrassment" and stated that Fox is a "lying, sick, sociopathic, disgusting freak." The UFC quickly condemned his comments and, along with publicly referring to itself as "a friend and ally of the LGBT community", immediately suspended Mitrione.  The next day Fox issued a statement of her own stating that Mitrione "personally attacked me as a fighter, as a woman, and as a human being"
Suffice to say it hasn't exactly shown MMA fans in the best light... any topic discussing her is riddled with transphobia (a sadly typical one can be found here
) and almost certain to includes references to her being a man, calling her a freak, calling her "mentally disturbed" constantly referring to her as a "him" or an "it" and other such insults. Even the more "balanced" comments are often along the lines of "I've got nothing against trannies but he shouldn't be allowed to chop his penis off so he can beat up real women".
So my question is, what is everyone else's thoughts? Both about transgendered athletes competing with and against cisgendered ones in general and in particular in combat sports along the lines of MMA?
I'm aware of my own ignorance about the topic of the actual transition phase and the effect of hormones and the like. As a general rule men have physical advantages over women that mean that in the majority of high profile sports they have significant advantages, especially in those those emphasise physical abilities such as strength. Would Fox have lost these advantages through the transitioning process or would she have an advantage over cisgendered women? Is that fact she transitioned relatively late in her life (when 30 or so) have given her more of an advantage than someone who transitioned earlier? Do issues such as bone structure or bone density have an impact and have these been changed in any way due to Fox's transition?
And I guess most of all... is it fair
for transgendered and cisgendered athletes to compete against each other, especially in sports where one of the primary aims is to punch your opponent in the face?