MMA's First Transgender Fighter Fallon Fox Doesn't Deserve the National Stage

Jonathan Snowden@JESnowdenCombat Sports Senior WriterApril 10, 2013

Photo via Championship Fighting Alliance
Photo via Championship Fighting Alliance

It seems these days that everyone has an opinion about Fallon Fox, MMA's first transgender fighter.

Should she be allowed to compete against women?

The International Olympic Committee says yes. UFC announcer Joe Rogan says no. "You're a f***ing man," he said on his popular podcast. "That's a man, OK?"

Transgender athletes competing against other women has been a sticking point for many since Richard Raskind became Renée Richards back in 1975. After a fierce battle in the courts, Richards was allowed to compete in the U.S. Open—as a woman. That she lost in straight sets to Virginia Wade is besides the point.

Or is it? From the very start it was clear that merely being transgender wasn't necessarily going to provide a competitive advantage. Richards got starched on the court. Who's to say the same won't happen to Fox in the cage? Yet the mere fact MMA is a thinly disguised fistfight gives many pause about Fox's decision to batter other women.

Does the desire to do so make her a "lying, sick, sociopathic, disgusting freak" as now-suspended UFC fighter Matt Mitrione so ineloquently put it during his now cancelled segment on The MMA Hour?

Is she really an "it" as UFC vice president Matt Hughes, the original meathead and the man in charge of athlete development for the UFC, posited?

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I'm not here to discuss any of those things, though if you're the type of person who can't allow rhetorical questions to hang free and easy, my answers would be "Yes, No, No."

The real question? Why are we talking about this at all?

Fox is a great human interest story. The original profile, by Sports Illustrated's Loretta Hunt, was an interesting and remarkable tale of someone finally comfortable in their own skin. Before her surgery, the issue of identity had plagued her for as long as she could remember, back into the earliest days of childhood.

"At that age, I didn't understand the subconscious force that was pushing me toward wanting my body to be female," Fox told Hunt. "I didn't know what that meant, so I was always confused and I felt that every other person that was born male was like me and had these same feelings, but knew it was something they weren't supposed to talk about."

I'm glad Fox had the chance to tell her story and that she found such a gifted writer to help her tell it. But, really, that should have been Fallon Fox's 15 minutes of fame, at least on the national scale.

As an athlete, Fallon Fox doesn't deserve the millions of words that have been splattered across the Internet in the month since Hunt's feature. For a prospect she's downright ancient at 37. She has just two professional fights. Her opponents in those bouts? A combined 0-5.

Yet, despite this scant and sparse resume, the publicity storm has caused many MMA fans to consider Fox in the same breath as top fighters like Ronda Rousey and Cris Cyborg. UFC star Miesha Tate sparked controversy when she suggested to ESPN.com she wouldn't be comfortable fighting Fox:

I wouldn't do it. 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.

While everyone is entitled to their opinion, why in the world was anyone asking Tate, a former champion at 135 pounds and one of the best female fighters in the world, whether she would fight a relative neophyte who has beaten no one of consequence? Fox, simply put, doesn't even belong in that conversation.

I have nothing against Fallon Fox. She seems perfectly nice and I wish her well. But I hope I never hear her name again—and if I do it should be because of something she achieved in the cage, not just because of who, and what, she is.

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