Transgendered Athletes: The Fallon Fox Controversy

MMA fighter Fallon Fox

MMA fighter Fallon Fox

This is one of those “ugh” posts where as a transgendered writer I find myself reluctantly siding (at least in part) with critics of a transgendered “sister”. The short and quick of it is Fallon Fox (love her name) has exploded onto the Mixed Martial Arts scene with two crushing victories over other women; one last year, in May and the other just a few weeks ago, March 02, 2013. Her latest victim was dispatched in short order, just 39 seconds into Round 1 with a powerful knee to the head. Mixed Martial Arts is for me a bit of a guilty pleasure. However, my interest is pretty much limited to the Women’s game and I happily count myself amongst the amazing Ronda Rousey’s legions of fans. But, I digress.

The criticisms laid to Ms. Fox’s account center on her status as a post-operative male-to-female transsexual. Critics (and there are many) state that as a transsexual woman she possesses innate physiological advantages over her opponents. Larger lungs, the ability to accrue greater musculature, and a heavier, denser skeletal frame are seen as providing her with an unfair competitive edge.

Although, Fallon states that medical science supports her legitimate claim to participation. I think that to some extent the jury is still out on that question. I have argued elsewhere on this blog that our status as male and female needs to be evaluated based on social criteria. In other words, if we as individuals, dress, present, and behave in a manner consistent with societal norms and expectations of a given sex then our respective governing authorities need to recognize that orientation and legally identify us as such.

However, in the world of sport where steroid use has been universally condemned–Lance Armstrong immediately comes to mind— then some scrutiny of transgendered athletes is fair. The basic question of whether Fallon Fox and other transgendered athletes have an inherent advantage should be examined.

I’m prepared to fall on my own sword in regards to this issue. As I have stated numerous times. I am female but I have a male past and because I transitioned later in life I have certain male features and undoubtedly some hard-wiring that is specifically male oriented. Would I eliminate these aspects of myself if I could? The answer is Yes, unreservedly so. However, the fact remains that physiologically I have certain male attributes that my cis-gendered sisters do not. I believe Fallon does as well.

While I am aware that the Olympic governing body has granted transsexuals the right to compete under the banner of their chosen sex. I believe that participation in any given competitive context needs to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. This is simply common sense.

In the meantime, I urge for kindness and compassion from society at large— to dehumanize us is a disservice to our basic humanity. We are not “its”. Also the word “tranny” is not a good word for us. It is dehumanizing and almost always pejorative. Nor, is Fallon Fox a man; neither should she be viewed as one. She has availed herself of everything medical science currently offers to bring her physiology within female parameters (albeit, within a MMA context). Some of the anti-transgendered rhetoric thrown against her is appalling and should not be tolerated let alone condoned by anyone.

I wish her every success as an athlete but more importantly as a woman. This does not mean I endorse her competing against cis-gendered women. However, neither should she be forced to fight males either. Perhaps a bout against ostracized steroid abuser Christiane “Cyborg” Santos would be an equitable compromise?

At any rate, below are a few YouTube links featuring Fallon Fox in her own words and some of the harsher more prejudicial rants against her.

And a great sports website dedicated to the LGBT community with an article responding to another negative rant towards Fallon Fox.

http://www.outsports.com/2013/3/24/4141668/fallon-fox-john-fain-peggy-morgan-mma-transgender

Fallon Fox is on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/FallonFoxofficial

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