By Trudy Ring
Originally published on Advocate.com May 24 2013 6:00 PM ET
The eyes of mixed martial arts fans will be on Fallon Fox tonight as she competes for the first time since becoming the first openly transgender MMA fighter.
Whether she should be allowed to compete against other women has been a topic of controversy in the sport ever since she revealed in March that she had undergone gender-reassignment surgery in 2006. The issue has “divided athletes, promoters, medical professionals and fans, some of whom argued if the 37-year-old Fox should be allowed to compete again at all,” reports Sports Illustrated on its website. However, the Florida State Boxing Commission has licensed her under its existing policies, while sports authorities consider additional guidelines regarding transgender athletes.
Still, “much has been made of what perceived advantages Fox might or might not have over for opponents,” SI notes. “Some concede that Fox's male physiology may have been dramatically altered by surgery and years of hormone therapy, but argue that it can never be entirely erased.”
The site goes on to report that Allanna Jones, who will compete against Fox tonight at Championship Fighting Alliance 11 in Coral Gables, Fla., says she’s not worried about those factors. “I believe she will [have an advantage] maybe in strength and she still does have the bone structure of a man, but I really haven’t been paying attention to it,” said Jones. “I’ve been focusing on what I need to do to win.”
Fox in turn says that she believes she will prevail because she’s a more well-rounded fighter than Jones. “I don’t think her kickboxing, wrestling, or jiu-jitsu is going to be as good as mine,” Fox told SI.
In another challenge for Fox, some athletes have made transphobic comments about her. Others, though, have praised her as courageous in her honesty.
Fox and Jones, SI concludes, consider tonight’s match “just another fight,” but to onlookers it’s much more. Read more here.