Mixed Martial Arts star Fallon Fox is recognized as the first known openly transgender fighter, and controversy abounds in her quest to become the MMA’s next champion. Fox underwent gender reassignment surgery in 2006, and the controversy is the question as to whether or not she has an unfair advantage over other women competing in the sport because of the fact that she was born male.

What Does the Medical Community Say?

For the most part, among experts in the medical community there seems to be a consensus that athletes born male and reassigned to female do not have a competitive advantage over other female athletes. Such athletes have to take testosterone blockers as well as estrogen, and many doctors state that these hormones actually mean that these athletes actually have to work harder to build muscle mass and maintain body weight requirements. Others in the MMA arena, particularly competitors, still question the fairness of Fox being allowed to compete.

Florida Licensing Controversy

Fox became a licensed MMA fighter in the state of Florida last year, but did not disclose on her initial application that she was a transgender athlete. She defended herself by pointing out the fact that there was not a question on the application related to gender reassignment and that she answered all the questions on the application truthfully. Her Florida fighting license is currently under review. She has applied for a license in California and the state’s Athletic Commission is awaiting a recommendation from the state’s Medical Advisory Committee before making their decision.

Fox’s MMA Career

Fallon Fox began training for MMA competition in 2008, 2 years after her gender reassignment surgery. She made her amateur fighting debut in 2011 at the Casino Royal Hotel in Idaho where she won the fight. Her second and most recent fight on March 2 was another win when she defeated Erika Newsome in 39 seconds with a knockout. This win advanced Fox to the Championship Fighting Alliance’s (CFA) semifinals. CFA owner, Jorge De La Noval, who supports Fox in her quest to compete, has postponed the CFA’s April 20 tournament until a ruling is made in Fox’s case.

Outed by Sports Illustrated

The popular magazine Sports Illustrated broke the transgender stories after one of the writers discovered Fox’s situation. Just 3 days after her win against Erika Newsome Sports Illustrated ran the story about Fox’s gender reassignment surgery. The story resulted in an outcry among MMA competitors that Fox has an unfair advantage over fighters who were born female, but Fox denies that she has any advantage at all.

According to Fox, “There is a misconception out there that postoperative transsexual women have an automatic advantage over women born with complete female anatomy. This is simply not true. The general public needs to be aware of this and we are hoping to shed light on this misconception.” MMA fans will have to wait for the Florida licensing board to make a decision on Fallon Fox’s case and that of future transgender athletes.

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