Fallon Fox didn’t plan to reveal to the world she’s a transgender woman, but as a professional mixed martial arts fighter with a string of victories to her credit, she knew her private past could be thrust into the spotlight at any moment.
"For years I've known at some point it's very likely the shoe would drop," Fox told Outsports in a phone interview Tuesday. "Maybe someone would guess that I'm trans. Maybe they would know me from my life before I transitioned. I've been waiting for that phone call to happen. And Saturday night, it happened."
The call Fox had been dreading since her MMA career began six years ago, came while she was at dinner celebrating her latest victory. It was from a reporter asking questions, which revealed the journalist was aware of Fox’s past. Two days later, a former trainer also called Fox and informed the athlete that the same reporter had asked her similar questions. That’s when Fox decided to take matters into her own hands with a public announcement.
Nevertheless, the elite-level fighter under the Championship Fighting Alliance fears being forced out of the closet will change many of the professional relationships she’s enjoyed since she began training. "These past six years, people have seen me as a woman, not a transsexual," she said. "People in the gym, people I train with, it's been great, it's been awesome. I'm just a woman to them. I don't want that to go away. It's unfortunate that it has to."
Fox also worries her string of success and the reputation she’s gained as a dominant MMA fighter will be called into question. While Sports Illustrated reports confusion surrounding Fox’s fighting license has risen since she came out, Outsports reports she’ll be able to continue in the sport as she currently meets the International Olympic Committee's standards for trans athletes.
Still, Fox fears her fighting career could be taken away.
"I love it so much," she said. "It's been my life these past five years. I could have given up on it a long time ago, but I can't let it go."
As the Championship Fighting Alliance reviews her case, Fox remains unshaken in her view of herself. "I consider myself a woman,” she tells Outsports. “I happen to fall into the transgender category, but I rather describe myself as a woman first."