Over the last week Fallon Fox has become an incredibly controversial figure in MMA. The 2-0 fighter came out as transgender after her license to fight in Florida was called into question. Since then, opinions have varied widely regarding whether or not Fox should be allowed to fight other women. UFC commentator Joe Rogan and orthopedist Dr. Johnny Benjamin were both against the idea, while two sexual reassignment doctors felt Fox held no advantage over her opponents.
On Monday, potential UFC Women's Bantamweight contender Miesha tate gave her thoughts to ESPN.com:
"I wouldn't do it," Tate told ESPN.com. "If there was solid research that [proved] she's 100 percent like a female, then I might consider it.
"I have nothing against transgender people. You should live your life however you want. It's about fighter safety. I wouldn't feel comfortable getting in with someone who is a woman but developed as a man. I just don't think it would be safe."
Tate is scheduled to fight Cat Zingano next month at The Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale on April 13. Following the first ever WMMA fight in the UFC at UFC 156, Dana White promised that the winner of that fight would be the most likely challenger for Ronda Rousey.
The backlash continues, I wonder at this rate how many women will actually TAKE a fight with Fallon Fox.
I'd say even if proven medically that Fox is fit to fight in a WMMA division, there will be scepticism from her opponents, and never a chance to fight in the UFC.
I am posting this as I just found it interesting Tate is weighing in on this. This is NOT an opportunity to bash transgender fighters or people!
Rosi Sextons take on the situation:
My take on the Fallon Fox controversy
Posted on March 14, 2013 by Rosi Sexton
There’s been lots of talk recently about female transgender MMA fighter Fallon Fox, and whether she should be able to compete in the women’s division. I’ve had a few discussions about it, and there seem to be a lot of misconceptions going around, so here are my thoughts on the subject.
1) Many of the comments about this subject have been offensive and unnecessary. I think this is a necessary debate, but it needs to be handled respectfully.
2) None of us have a right to compete in professional MMA. People are routinely denied a licence to compete if their medical status means that there could be an increased risk either to themselves or their opponent.
3) MMA is a relatively safe sport, providing that participants are evenly matched by size, strength and ability. We have gender and weight classes not only to ensure fairness, but also to reduce the risks.
4) Contrary to some of the assertions by Fox’s supporters in the media, there appears to be no good scientific evidence that proves Fox does not have a performance advantage over someone who was born female. Expert opinion is still just opinion – and it seems divided on the subject. Experts may also have their own biases. Specialists in gender reassignment may not be equally knowledgeable about exercise physiology.
5) The experts supporting Fox have been quite cautious in their assessment. ”She probably does not have a significant advantage” and “her musculature is comparable to that of a woman” are a long way from saying “we know for a fact that she does not have a performance advantage over someone born female”.
6) The differences between men and women in sport depend on a great deal more than current hormone levels and muscle mass. For example, men have a higher ratio of type II to type I muscle fibres, which is associated with improved speed and explosive power, and a heart that is larger relative to body size. It’s not clear to what extent either of these would change after sex-reassignment surgery, or what implications that would have for performance in this case. Because of the bone structure that is developed while still growing, men also have a greater lung capacity and a narrower pelvis, giving a biomechanical advantage – factors which are highly unlikely to be reversed by hormone treatment.There are likely to be other factors that differ between men and women in terms of athletic performance that we aren’t even aware of.
7) Fox’s supporters point to the fact that male to female transgender athletes are allowed to compete as female in the olympics to support their argument that she should be able to compete in the women’s division in MMA. The IOC appears to base it’s policy on the principle that without firm evidence that an unfair advantage exists, transgender fighters should be allowed to compete in the interests of inclusivity. I agree that equality of participation is a nice ideal, and it’s a reasonable argument if we’re talking about sports like tennis or kayaking. But in a sport where one participant is trying to do physical damage to another, the burden of proof should be reversed. We need good scientific evidence to support the assertion that Fox has no advantage as a result of having been born male. Lack of evidence of an advantage isn’t sufficient – especially when so little evidence exists.
8) We should also consider the possibility that the IOC decision may not be based entirely on scientific evidence (of which there appears to be very little), but also on factors such as social pressure.
9) Good research on this subject that takes into account all the relevant factors is hard to do, for a variety of reasons. Several people have suggested that performance testing could establish whether Fox’s attributes (strength, power, VO2 max, etc) lie within “normal range” for a female athlete. Leaving aside the statistical issues, a significant problem with this idea is the question of how to measure performance variables in an athlete who – by the nature of the situation – would not have an incentive to produce her best possible performance.
10) I sympathise with Fox’s position, and I don’t entirely agree with those who say that she should not be allowed to fight. On the other hand, I believe it was wrong that Fox’s opponents were not informed of the situation so they could make their own assessment of the risks involved and give consent. This will obviously not be an issue in future in Fox’s case; but I’m concerned about the athletic commissions’ position that the opponent has no right to know. My opinion is that if someone is going to be legally punching me in the face, then it’s absolutely my business if she grew up as a male. While I understand the concerns about privacy, I don’t think that in this case the right to privacy trumps the opponent’s right to make her own informed decision about the risks she is taking.
Finally – if anyone has access to any scientific evidence that I seem to have missed, please send it to me! I am happy to revise my opinion as and when new information becomes available.
Footnote: Another concern in this particular case is with the tournament set up. The other fighters in the semi-finals are now in a difficult position – if they turn down the fight because of (in my opinion, quite valid) concerns, they lose their spot in the tournament. That, to me, seems wrong. Fighters should not be coerced or pressured into accepting a match against Fox if they are not comfortable doing so.
If medical tests suggest Fox is female enough to compete in WMMA, would you see her in the UFC?