Oh, why didn’t we listen to the haters of women’s MMA??? Just like allowing gay marriage in America has opened the floodgates for man-on-dog and woman-on-inanimate-object marriage, opening the doors to MMA for women has brought in with it all sorts of crazy complications as well. MMA now has it’s first case where a former man is competing in the sport as a woman. SBNation’s lesser known site Outsports has an excellent article on Fallon Fox:

Ten years ago, Fox told her parents that she felt like she was born in the wrong body. Her mother rejected the news. Her father told her she was actually a confused gay man. Fox insisted that she wasn’t gay, and that she was mostly attracted to other women. Her father was unrelenting and put her in gay-conversion therapy. There she was treated by a gay-conversion therapist who tried to convince Fox that she was a gay man so that he could turn her into a straight man.

When the therapy sessions finally ended, Fox decided to start her sexual transition. She soon began hormone therapy that she has now been on for 10 years. Six years ago, she had gender reassignment surgery.

Due to her hard work and focus, Fox considers herself a top-tier fighter who is just now moving through the ranks of the MMA circuit.

“This [dominance] is pretty common for someone who’s an elite fighter with great technique,” Fox said. “I’ve been training for this for five years. It’s been all that’s been on my mind. Constantly training. And it’s just now starting to pay off.”

She argues that after 10 years of hormone therapy, and six years after gender-reassignment surgery, any advantage she had from being born in a male body have been erased. She is even recognized by the State of Illinois as female on her driver license.

“I’m technically, legally, physically and mentally female,” she said. “Everything about me is female”

Unfortunately for Fox, her story kinda falls into the old hypothetical of the dude who gets a sex change operation and starts whupping everyone in the women’s league. She is currently 5-0 with five first round finishes. A lot of that undoubtedly has to do with her talent as a mixed martial artist. But did 30 years of male hormones also configure her body to a point where she now has an unfair advantage over her competition?

I certainly have no idea how the hell any of this works, but that’s what some of her past opposition feels. Here’s Alyssa Vasquez, Fox’s last amateur opponent:

I have fought some amazing women in the cage, but I can honestly say she was the fastest and strongest fighter I’ve ever faced. … I am angered that I wasn’t informed prior to stepping in the cage, but I don’t support anyone bashing her. She was a sweet woman to me and even gave me an enormous hug right after our fight. She was the epitome of what I would want to be in a fighter, but with that being said, I simply don’t feel it is fair for her to compete under the guise of being a woman.

Granted, it is a fighter’s responsibility to do their research but I do believe that there should be full disclosure when it comes to contract signing. I know she doesn’t want the stigma of that label, but it is unfortunately part of the trade-off. You get to wreck as many opponents as you please, but they must be willing to fight you. I know the female she fought in her Pro debut is already screaming for a rematch, so I don’t think honesty will dissuade the competition.

‘Under the guise of being a woman’ is harsh but coming from someone on the receiving end of an MMA loss, it raises some questions that need answering. What really makes you a woman in sports? Is it slicing of your penis up and stuffing it in your groin? The hormones coursing through your body? The hormones coursing through your body during puberty?

This is relatively new ground for combat sports. In Thailand there was a famous transgendered kickboxer named Nong Thoom, but she was still technically a he for most of her career and was mostly fighting other men. Once she had gender reassignment surgery, she was barred from competing in her home country. In general athletic competition, the Olympics now allow athletes who have undergone sexual reassignment surgery to compete so long as they have undergone two years of hormonal therapy. There are additional hormonal level tests as well, which seems like a sane way to proceed.

One thing is for sure, though: Fox’s opponents and the commissions involved deserve to know what’s up before they agree to a fight. That doesn’t seem like it’s going to be a problem moving forward, and I can only hope that her situation is dealt with in a reasonable and scientific manner rather than an emotional and bigoted one.