UFC Women's Champ: 'I Wouldn't Refuse' to Fight a Trans Athlete

UFC Women's Champ: 'I Wouldn't Refuse' to Fight a Trans Athlete

Nearly a year after undefeated Ultimate Fighting Champion Ronda Rousey made headlines for saying she would not fight trans mixed martial artist Fallon Fox because Fox's bone structure gave her an "unfair advantage," Rousey has clarified her position on facing fighters who happen to be transgender women.

Speaking with HuffPost Live on Wednesday, the 28-year-old bantam weight women's leader said she "never refused to fight a trans athlete" outright, and would consider it on a "case-by-case basis."

Rousey's 2014 comments were contested by trans advocates, who pointed out the growing consensus among medical professionals who provide health care for transgender people is that after several years of clinical treatment, including hormone therapy and sometimes gender-affirming surgeries, transgender women have musculature and bone structure that is largely similar to their cisgender (nontrans) counterparts, giving them no substantial "advantage" over their colleagues in their chosen sport.

In 2004 the International Olympic Committee adopted what is known as the Stockholm Consensus, the policy that opened the door for transgender athletes to compete in the Olympic Games.

Still, Rousey contended to HuffPost Live, "from what I've read, it seems like if you've already gone through puberty as a man, even if you really want to rid yourself of those physical advantages, I just don't think science is there yet." She added that it would "totally fair" to fight a trans woman who had taken hormone blockers to suppress puberty before beginning a medical transition.

"I think every single woman should be evaluated case-by-base basis by whatever athletic commission they are applying for a license in, and they should bring in medical experts to give their opinion and the commissioner should make their decision," Rousey continued.

Rousey made a similar claim a year ago when asked if she would fight Fox, telling The Toronto Sun that, "I've tried to research it a lot. I feel like if you go through puberty as a 'man,' it's not something you can reverse. ... There's no undo button on that."

Since coming out as a transgender woman in 2013, 39-year-old Fox has faced similar claims but has continually pointed out that trans female athletes who undergo hormone treatment face a disadvantage in bone strength and muscle density.

Fox recently told U.K. newspaper The Guardian that the arguments made against trans athletes competing alongside their cisgender peers echo hollow justifications for discrimination in the past. 

"People have used those arguments to feed bigotry in the past: they would say, for example, that black people have larger heel bones, bone structure, maybe they can stand in the sun longer than caucasians," she told the paper in February. "That’s an unfair advantage! What they’re doing is using people’s ignorance of biology and their hatred of a particular group, mushing that all together in one big ball, and it has the effect of convincing the most gullible."

The UFC's position seems more in line with Rousey's than with Fox's and the medical community. UFC president Dana White told reporters: that "Bone structure is different, hands are bigger, jaw is bigger, everything is bigger," according to the Guardian. "I don’t believe in it. I don’t think someone who used to be a man and became a woman should be able to fight a woman."

To HuffPost Live this week, Rousey clarified that she would never turn down a fight from anyone if pressed. "If they did say that, 'We really want you to fight this chick,' I will," she said. "I wouldn't, like, refuse and protest."

Rousey — who says she believes UFC is the first truly "equal" sport for both women and men — has stated elsewhere that she could knock out any bantam weight male fighter in the world, but also clarified to Yahoo News this week that she would never fight a man because men hitting women sends the "wrong message" to UFC fans.

See more in the HuffPost Live video below.

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