Much has been made of male-to-female transgender athlete Fallon Fox’s participation as a fighter in women’s mixed martial arts competition, and specifically in Championship Fighting Alliance’s women’s tournament.
Nearly everyone has an opinion on the situation. Several women in the sport have said that they believe the 37-year-old Fox – born a man, but having undergone gender reassignment surgery and hormonal treatments – has a physical advantage over her female-born counterparts.
Fox, however, says that she does not have an advantage over her opponents. In fact, she believes, if anything, it's the opposite.
“I’m actually at a disadvantage,” Fox said on a recent edition of Inside MMA. “Before the surgery, I started on hormone replacement surgery, back in 2002, 2003.”
She continues the hormone treatments to this day.
“I have to. If I don’t take estrogen hormone replacement therapy, I can get osteoporosis,” she continued. “So any of the women I’m competing against, my testosterone levels are drastically lower than theirs; it’s almost nothing.”
Dr. Marci Bowers, a gender reassignment surgeon who has also undergone the procedure, concurred.
“If you measure (Fox’s) endurance and her strength, it’s actually that of a comparable woman of the same age,” Bowers told Inside MMA. “What happens is after surgery patients actually regress in that their bone density drops to what a comparable woman of her size would be.
“When you test her, she’s gonna come out with low testosterone levels and muscle mass that is remarkably similar to her counterparts.”
The range of reaction from Fox’s fellow CFA women’s tournament competitors is just as varied as that of the rest of the MMA world.
“I understand it’s necessary to protect (Fox’s) rights and make sure that she’s being treated fairly,” Peggy Morgan, one of the favorites in the CFA tournament, told MMAWeekly.com at the time the matter flared. “And I do think that is something that should happen, but I feel like our safety (the other tournament fighters) should be protected as well.”
Morgan and her trainer, John Fain, also issued an inflammatory video about Fox that was much less reserved.
“Fallon Fox is not Rosa Parks,” declared Fain. “He lied on his Florida state application to fight, and as a result, assaulted an unknowing woman in the cage. This is a total lack of character and integrity. We are not afraid of Fallon Fox, but we are not going to fight him.”
Fox’s CFA 11 opponent, Allana Jones, hasn’t been nearly as critical or as vocal.
“I’m so used to training with people bigger than me, so I look at it as another fight,” Jones told Inside MMA. “I feel it could be (a physical advantage), but once I get in the cage with her I might not be able to tell. It is what it is basically.”
The CFA and Fox are getting a lot of attention over the matter, but in the end, Fox stands by the idea that it is not just her opinion that she is a fair fight for any woman in her weight class.
“It’s not just my opinion, it’s the medical community’s opinion.”