UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey has revised her position on fighting transgender athletes; she says she will decide whether to fight an opponent on a case-by-case basis.
Her revision comes as the MMA world is split over the question of Fallon Fox, known to be the first transgender athlete in MMA.
Fox opened up about her gender reassignment in an article published by Sports Illustrated.
“A reporter came after me,” she told the magazine, “and asked me questions about my past. I was scared I could be outed, I felt like I had it coming, so I got ahead of it.
“The scope of anger and vitriol that I received initially … That was disheartening, tragic. It was mind-blowing.”
Fox immediately divided opinion in the MMA world.
She was described by UFC fighter Matt Mitrione as a “lying, sick, sociopathic, disgusting freak.”
While UFC commentator Joe Rogan was just as outspoken: “You’re a [email protected] man!” he raged. “And she wants to be able to fight women in MMA. I say no [email protected] way. If you had a dick at one point in time, you also have all the bone structure that comes with having a dick.”
Rousey initially refused to even consider fighting Fox, but has since reviewed her position.
Fox was born Boyd Burton on November 29, 1975. He showed signs of struggling with his gender from the age of 5; when he would sneak into his sister’s bedroom and dress in her clothes.
He later married his girlfriend, with whom he had a child. But the confusion continued.
In 2000 he came across the term ‘gender dysphoria’ and began to understand his condition.
Burton served with the navy between 1996 and 2000. Upon his release he began to seek treatment with a therapist.
But in 2006 Boyd decided to make the change and flew to Thailand for gender reassignment surgery.
She described having the procedure as ‘empowering’.
She returned to the US a woman and continued driving trucks for a living.
Then she came across MMA.
“You see things in movies with strong female characters that can fight; but seeing it in real life sucked me in. I saw these women in MMA and thought they were amazing.
Fox said fighting made her “feel like I was just like everyone else.”
She now has an MMA record of 5-1 (all against women fighters).
She believes her previous gender gives her no advantages.
“I’ve been through a lot of things to change myself from male to female … they decrease my testosterone levels to lower than any other female on the planet who’s not transgender.”
The medical fraternity back up these claims.
“Male to female transsexuals have significantly less muscle strength and bone density, and higher fat mass, than males,” said Dr Eric Vilain, director at the Institute for Society and Genetics at UCLA. Dr Vilain was integral in assisting the association of boxing commissions piece together its transgender policy.
However, UFC supremo Dana white remains unconvinced.
“Bone structure is different, hand s are bigger, jaw is bigger, everything is bigger. I don’t believe in it. I don’t think someone who used to be a man and became a woman should be able to fight a woman.”