Fallon Fox Comes Out as First Transgender MMA Pro Fighter
On March 5, wrestler fighter Fallon Fox came out as the first transgender female athlete to compete in the MMA. Although her status as a wrestler is not in jeopardy due to this disclosure, she expressed a hope that it would not change how her fans viewed her.
The 37-year-old Fallon said that she did not take the decision lightly, admitting she was filled with dread at the prospect of publicly coming out as a transwoman. But when a reporter called her last week with probing questions and the promise that her secret would be revealed, Fox decided she could no longer remain in the closet about her status.
"For years I've known at some point it's very likely the shoe would drop," Fox told Outsports' Cyd Zeigler in a March 5 article. "Maybe someone would guess that I'm trans. Maybe they would know me from my life before I transitioned. I've been waiting for that phone call to happen. And Saturday night, it happened."
Fox said that she started hormone therapy 10 years ago, after an unsuccessful bout with a gay-conversion therapist hired by her parents. Six years ago, she underwent surgery, traveling to Thailand for gender reassignment, breast augmentation and hair transplant surgery at the Bangkok National Hospital. In 2011 -- after her first MMA fight -- Fallon followed this up with facial feminization surgery.
She took up MMA fighting shortly after her surgery, and quickly became a dominant fighter. After five years of training, she is a top-tier athlete in the MMA circuit.
"I get to train and hit on the bag and let some aggression out," Fox told Outsports. "And I love being out in front of the crowd when I compete. I love displaying my skill. All the hours of hard work and training, and you go out there and get to display what you’ve learned. At least when you lose, you know you tried your best. That fight experience is intoxicating."
Although some fans may grouse that being born a male gives her an advantage over female MMA fighter, Fox asserts that after years of hormone therapy and operations, any edge she had is long gone.
"I’m technically, legally, physically and mentally female," she said. "Everything about me is female."
Fox’s transgender identity does not pose any problems for her in the world of athletics. In 2012 the Association of Boxing Commissions (ABC) drafted a transgender policy for the sport that would not have obligated her to reveal her gender identity to anyone other than the athletic licensing commissions. And because she has transitioned, she we even be elgible to compete in the Olympics, should she meet the committee’s standards for trans athletes.
"[The common thinking is] it’s impossible for a transgender woman, who was born a man, to play women’s sports and [have] it be fair," said Helen J. Carroll, the Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights’ Sports Project Carroll, in a Sports Illustrated article. "The short answer is the transgender woman is a woman, and when she transitions, she takes testosterone-blocking hormones, so when she does end up competing, she has less testosterone in her system than her competitors do."
Although Fallon is now dealing with some fallout for a questionable athletic license in the state of Florida, she clearly meets all of the guidelines set forth by the ABC to maintain competitive equity among other female fighters. And officials at the Championship Fighting Alliance have said that they will postpone an April 20 event in order to give Fox time to resolve her licensing issues with the commission.
"We’re not going to turn our backs on her," CFA co-founder Jorge De La Noval, told Sports Illustrated. "Fallon’s not only a woman, she’s a sweet woman. She also a great fighter and has the potential to win this tournament. As long as she’s licensed, she’s always welcome in our promotion. We stand behind her and we give her all of our support."