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Men’s Sports, Women’s Sports, Transsexuals in Sports

Fallon Fox is a 37 year old MMA fighter.  She was formerly in the navy.  Fallon has a 16 year old daughter.  She had her first amateur MMA fight in 2011.  Today, Fallon has an undefeated MMA record with three amateur wins and two professional wins.  Most critics would say Fallon has a promising future in her MMA career.Image

Recently Fallon revealed to the media and the public that she is transsexual, Fallon was anatomically born a male.  She undergone gender reassignment surgery and hormonal therapy in 2006.  Her daughter is her biological child born many years before the procedure.

This revelation has caused great controversy in the MMA world, among athletes, and critics.  Everyone has an opinion.  It is obvious that Fallon did not want her transsexual status public knowledge.  Her first tweet addressing that she is transsexual states “I’ve had to come out publicly as a post operative transsexual woman…”  Why didn’t Fallon want people to know she was transsexual?  Some speculate it is because Fallon believes she has a physical advantage over her female opponents.  On the other hand, maybe it was because she did not want people to judge her accomplishments on someone she’s not anymore.

But is it fair for Fallon to compete in a contact sport against females as a post operative transsexual female?

Men are physically stronger than women.  So naturally we don’t see men and women going toe to toe in boxing or martial arts competition.  Significant time separates the men and women record holders in track events.  There are rules in professional sports that keep men and women separate.  Now what about transsexuals?  In some sports organizations in events such as cycling, you can compete when you are at least two years post operation.  MMA as a contact sport doesn’t have such rules, plausibly because this situation is unique to the sport.  Fallon’s license to fight is currently under review.

Is two years post operation enough time for a transsexual not to have an advantage over their competition?  Is there ever enough time?  I think this is something difficult to determine.  I’m not denying that Fallon is a hard worker and great competitor but as an athlete I think she may be at an advantage over her female opponents.  Fallon had surgery when she was 30 years old, far past physical maturity as a man.  So when is she fully developed as a woman?  Where is there no “advantage”?  Does it ever happen?


3 Comments

  1. jsegrist says:

    This is a really interesting issue. There might be a time where she will no longer have an advantage, but that also depends on when she started taking estrogen and not just due to her operations. Most of the time, trans* people take hormones years before they have the operation done. So depending on when that happen, she may or may not have an advantage anymore.

  2. Stephanie Jones says:

    I personally believe she should be able to compete as a woman. As a trans woman, she can no longer (and would almost certainly not want to) compete in the men’s division. Rather, she should be able to compete in the women’s division because if not there, where else? Ruling that she can’t compete in either is entirely discriminatory. Plus, her physical strength has a lot more to do with hormone therapy rather than her status as post-op. If she has been taking estrogen for a sufficient amount of time, any advantage she might have had from being born male should have diminished.

  3. jasonjameson says:

    Fallon should be allowed to compete.

    However, if Fallon has an advantage over other women then I respect the other women’s rights to not want to compete with Fallon, since it is not level playing field.

    I am not qualified to comment on whether there is an advantage or the amount of time said advantage takes to diminish.

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