“Fallon Fox was born a man. In 2006, when she was 30, she had gender reassignment surgery.
Fox is now a (sic) MMA fighter for the Championship Fighting Alliance (CFA). Her record is 2-0 after destroying Ericka Newsome Saturday night in 39 seconds with a vicious knee to the head.
“Fox says she now wants to fight “at the highest level” — which in the MMA world is only one place — the UFC.”
Fox insists she is a woman in every respect and just happens to fall into the category of postoperative transsexual. She compares herself to any other category of women, including blacks, lesbians and the disabled.
Fox says she has no advantage over naturally born women.”
As the article goes on to state, Fox has only won bouts against women who have never fought or even won a match before. So in reality, she has to get her weight up – proverbial speaking – to even begin thinking about the UFC. But based upon her picture alone, I wouldn’t try her. That’s why I’m going to pull a Kevin Hart and keep my comments on the up and up. Ain’t no aspiring UFC fighter coming after me for writing junk about the legitimacy of her record in no column. She’s not going be whooping my behind talking about “WoooooorldStaaaaaar…”
All jokes aside though, because this is a serious topic here for folks dealing physically and physiologically with the turmoil that comes from being in a body, which doesn’t conform to how they feel about themselves internally. Once a person makes the courageous decision to match their externals with their internals, then comes the complicated matter of figuring out how that is supposed to operate in a society, which only recognizes gender in narrow terms. This too applies to the athletic of us. Of course, there have been transgender women playing in female sports before like Kye Allums, a transgender man (a man born a female) and former junior guard at George Washington University. He became the first Division I college basketball player to compete publicly as a transgender person. His place on the team, while not the subject to extreme hostility, was also a source of controversy among his teammates, who while not outright objecting to his placement on the team, felt that his sexuality was a distraction.
And sometimes you don’t even have to be transgendered to have your gender identity serve as a distraction, such as in the instance of Mokgadi Caster Semenya, the South African runner and world champion who sparked international controversy over questions about her gender. While born female, Semenya, who does not abide by more Western and European standards of femininity, was made to adhere to gender testing, including tests to determine if her chromosomes were consistent with being female and if her testosterone levels exceeded the acceptable threshold (hyperandrogenism), after race officials questioned her stellar performance and win at the 2009 World Championship. According to various published reports, there are a handful of female-born athletes with excessive levels of testosterone who have been required by the International Association of Athletics Federations, or IAAF, to undergo surgery or receive hormone therapy in order to qualify for competition. While Semenya has been tight-lipped about whether or not she too had to undergo any of these corrective actions by the IAAF, however, as noted by The Atlantic Wire, she “has gotten more feminine looking over the last few years.” Her new “softer” appearance has also had an effect on her performance and not necessarily for the better, which begs another question about any possible advantages, which might come from being a transgendered athlete, particularly a transgender woman competing against naturally-born women.
According to this article in the Toronto Star, scientists differ on the effects that sex-reassignment surgery or hyperandrogenism might have on the performance of an athlete with some rejecting the idea of any advantages while others have suggested that there is an “unfair advantage,” due to “more muscle mass, easier recovery and a higher level of blood red cells.” And as stated by the article in Sports Illustrated, the International Olympic Committee ruled in 2004 that “any trans athlete who wants to compete against those not of their birth sex must undergo sex reassignment surgery and then two years of hormone therapy—either testosterone supplementation (to go from female to male) or testosterone suppression (to go from male to female).” Other sports governing bodies have too taken a similar stance to such athletes, including the NCAA, which decided against requiring surgeries, but does require trans females “to undergo only one year of testosterone suppression before they can compete against women; trans males can receive a medical exemption to take testosterone under a doctor’s supervision but can no longer compete on a women’s team.”
The non-uniform standards for participation means that transgendered athletes and those with questionable gender identities will continue to be subjected to a dehumanizing situation and discrimination in order to compete professionally. Unfortunately for Fox, this might be a question that she will have to deal with if she ever reaches the level of being a UFC fighter. And as for whether or not she should be able to fight against women; I mean – and I’m being real here – if she were huskier in build, I would be like Hell No! People interested in watching a big woman have an unfair advantage over a little woman probably enjoy watching similar-style beatdowns on WorldStarHipHop. However, since she pretty much embodies the standard physical form as the average female-born UFC fighter, I don’t see there being an advantage for her because she was born male.
But I am curious about what other folks think. Is there an unfair advantage in transgendered, particularly trans-women, competing intra-gender?