by Greg Walker, AMAM
While the exact definition is still under debate, "transgender" is a common term applied to a variety of individuals, behaviors, and groups involving tendencies to vary from culturally conventional gender roles. It refers to the state of one's gender identity not matching one's assigned sex.
Professional Mixed-Martial Artist Fallon Fox is a transgendered person.
"Fallon's confusion does not transfer over to my confusion. He still has a Y chromosome." said Pat Miletich.
This is just one example of the many callous comments made regarding featherweight MMA fighter Fallon Fox (2-0) after her 2013 admission to having had a sex-change. Fox revealed that she was actually born a male.
In interviews, the controversial athelete openly expressed her personal views that transgender fighters should not have to disclose their specific medical history to any of their opponents nor to the ruling commissions.
Fox, now 37 years old, has been in the spotlight amid rumors over the disclosure of her medical records. She's stated, "I don't believe that a transgender fighter should have to disclose her personal medical history to other female fighters before they fight. It's simply for the reason the medical community and the scientific community have come to the consensus that post-operative transsexual fighters who have been on hormone replacement and testosterone suppression, when they're going from male to female, haven't been found to have any physiological advantages over other women."
At least two state athletic commissions are now reviewing her applications. Fox's application to the California State Atheletic Commission (CSAC) had not yet been approved when this article was recorded. Meanwhile, she has also submitted her application to become licensed by the Florida State Boxing Commission (FSBC).
Her next fight was slated for an April 20th, 2013 semifinal match for the Championship Fighting Alliance Women's Tournament. However, pending a question whether or not her license has actually been approved, this fight has now been postponed. She will continue in the tournament if she can be cleared in time.
Under much scrutiny, Fox has claimed that she did not knowingly deceive anyone, but that she believed her license in California was already approved.
Fox confessed, "I do believe it may deter some fighters from fighting me in the future. Some fighters have already said that they would not want to fight me. I think that's because they're scared, number one, because I'm pretty good, or they might have a bias or they might be a hate-filled person who doesn't want to touch me or whatever, but I don't want to fight those people anyways because they're scared, and what kind of fight would that be? I wanna fight someone who's going to come out at me aggressively, who wants to fight me."
"You're a Fucking man!" exclaimed UFC commentator Joe Rogan.
"She calls herself a woman but...I tend to disagree. And, uh, she, um...she used to be a man but now she has had, she's a transgender, which is the official term that means you've gone through it, right? And, she wants to be able to fight women in MMA. I say no fucking way.
I say if you had a dick at one point in time, you also have all the bone structure that comes with having a dick. You have bigger hands, you have bigger shoulder joints. You're a fucking man. That's a man, ok? You can't have...that's...I don't care if you don't have a dick anymore." rants Rogan.
Since Fox "came out" earlier this year, admitting to have gone through her extensive sex change procedure during a 2006 trip to Thailand, she has faced scathing opinions from many MMA observers and fans.
Prior to her transition, she had served in the Navy as a 2nd Class Operations Specialist aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise. Fox supports her daughter who was born as the result of an unplanned pregnancy. She was forced to quit school and has worked as a truck driver to afford her gender reassignment surgery.
Despite now being physically identified as a woman for seven years, critics still feel strongly about her not being allowed to compete against other female MMA fighters.
"Look, she's huge! She's not just huge, she's got a fucking man's face. I mean, you can wear all the lipstick you want. You want to be a woman and you want to take female hormones, you want to get a boob job, that's all fine. I support your life to live, your right to live as a woman.
Fight guys, yes. She has to fight guys. First of all, she's not really a she. She's a transgender, post-op person. The operation doesn't shave down your bone density. It doesn't change.
You look at a man's hands and you look at a woman's hands and they're built different. They're just thicker, they're stronger, your wrists are thicker, your elbows are thicker, your joints are thicker. Just the mechanical function of punching, a man can do it much harder than a woman can, period." continued Rogan.
The women's division in professional MMA seems to still be divided on their outlook towards potentially having to fight a transgendered competitor within their ranks.
Female UFC bantamweight fighter Liz Caramouche, a self-confessed lesbian and openly gay athlete, went public with her support of Fox. Caramouche stated that she would welcome her as an opponent if she competed against Fox.
However, the glamorous former Strikeforce champion Meisha Tate went on record saying that she personally would not fight a transgender athlete like Fox due to her unique physical concerns.
"I won't do it. I have nothing against transgendered people. It's about fighter safety. I wouldn't feel comfortable getting in (a fight) with someone who is a woman but developed as a man. I just don't think it would be safe.
I just have a lot of questions and I don't feel there's been enough research to safely say it's ok for Fallon Fox to fight other females. My concern is that she went through puberty as a man. Does that change bone density? Does it change her body frame?" asks Tate.
MMA columists are speculating on what well-respected "Rowdy" Ronda Rousey, the current high-profile UFC women's bantamweight champion, might have to say on this delicate topic.
MMA fans say they feel that the only suitable opponent for Fox may be veteran female fighter Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos. Cyborg (10-1) has faced much criticism herself after tests proved she used enhancement drugs to prepare for her fights. She's been verbally crucified and often ostracized by a league of other female atheletes, but those loyal to Cyborg say she is still the best pound-for-pound female fighter.
What else does Fallon Fox have to say?
"There is a lot of incorrect information out there on me. For one, some believe I did not disclose to any commissions my medical history. This is not true. I informed the California commission of every surgical procedure and came out to them weeks before my last fight.
The commission sent out a document which appeared to be a receipt and a license. On the bottom right hand corner of the document there were directions. If you recieved this document, wouldn't you think it was a license? Especially since it says to present it as proof of licensure?
And, as I have said before, when I presented what I thought was a license to the Florida commission, Florida did not ask what surgeries I have had. If they asked, I would have told them also." claims Fox.
Fox is not the first transgender fighter to gain media attention.
Famous Muay-Thai kickboxer Nong Toom was born as male on June 9, 1981. Since childhood, she was already aware of her female gender-identity. After becoming a Buddist monk, she began to study boxing, and eventually joined a Muay-Thai camp in Thailand. Toom, originally named Parinya Charoenphol, quickly drew media attention as the make-up wearing 16-year-old kathoey or "Lady Boy" who's trademark was to kiss those he had defeated in the ring. At first, Toom faced sneers and jeers from an audience that dubbed her a "Transvestite Muay-Thai Fighter" yet her career then blossomed with the full support of the Muay-Thai organization.
In 1998, Toom hoped to be able to make enough money to pay for a sex change. She was able to undergo sex-change surgery in 1999. After an extended post-op recovery, she returned to fight again. She has made many media appearances and has gone on to appear in films. In 2010, transsexual Nong Toom opened a boxing camp Thailand where she teaches Muay-Thai and fitness conditioning.
"What the hell...how can a man-beast like Fallon Fox ever think she could get away with it? She's not even a real female, he-she doesn't even know what it's like to be on the rag! Just because you got a sex-change doesn't make you a real woman. You're still a man, you bitch! You should not be allowed to fight a real female, you should fight men in your weight-class, that's all." ~ Anonymous drunk celebrity who refused to sign her Privacy Release.
Barring the opinions of those too stubbornly bias, or are closed-minded biggots, or those with unyielding views chained to the strict confines of their particular religious beliefs, the question put forth here still remains unanswered...should a post-op transgender person be allowed to compete in the ranks of Mixed-Martial Arts or, for that matter, should he or she be allowed to particpate in any professional sport?