I have been getting a lot of emails and Facebook posts from friends asking me to “weigh in on” mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter Fallon Fox. It is an interesting request, because Fallon Fox is a woman who happens to fight. To me, this is not really anything one should “weigh in on,” but, hey, she also happens to be someone who was assigned “male” at birth, and that seems to be a controversial thing. And I’m a trans guy who writes about trans issues and loves MMA, so here I go!
I’m not totally sure why it is controversial. It’s not like there are not guidelines for many athletic organizations, and it’s not like she is the first trans-identified person to participate in organized sports; there is precedent. What seems to actually be at issue is that there are people who believe that trans women are not women, and additionally believe that men should not fight women. The line of thought seems to go like this: “Fox is a man, and men should not fight women, so Fox should not fight in women’s MMA.” Interesting.
In this discussion we have individuals weighing in who have no medical training, especially on trans health care. Having training on transgender health care is important; my own general practitioner seems to care less about treating my trans body and would not be able to weigh in on this issue, either! Of course, the leading doctors researching and serving transgender people have weighed in. Dr. Marci Bowers, arguably one of the most knowledgeable doctors when it comes to male-to-female health care, told Steph Daniels from Bloody Elbow:
[With hormone therapy, most] measures of physical strength minimize, muscle mass decreases, bone density decreases, and [transgender women] become fairly comparable to [cisgender] women in their musculature. After as much time as has passed in her case, if tested, she would probably end up in the same muscle mass category as her biologically born female counterpart.
Dr. Sherman Leis agreed with Dr. Bowers and went on to debunk many of the myths about Fox’s “super strength” by saying: