By Christiana Paradis
Meet Fallon Fox: the only transgender professional MMA fighter. Standing at five feet six inches, and 37 years old, Fox has many obstacles in front of her, especially as an MMA fighter. Though 2013 has presented society and the media with several athletes who have come out as LGBT – including professional basketball player, Jason Collins – it is difficult to compare these to Fox. Most athletes were welcomed into the LGBT community and after a couple weeks of headlines all of the buzz died down.
Fox has fought her way to the top because it is what she loves to do; however fans of the sport do not always reciprocate. Internet trolls frequently comment how “manly” Fox looks on promotional pictures and it is not uncommon for Fox to hear comments like “Kick her in the nuts” during matches. Furthermore, commentators were playing songs such as “Dude Looks Like a Lady” before Fox would enter the ring – but this isn’t bullying… bullying is just for kids, right?
Fox fights every day for herself, for her health, but also for respect. She states:
“MMA is the most dangerous sport there is for a transgender, with all the body contact, I know that, but it just turned out that I was good at it, you know? You pursue what you’re good at…. I realize that it’s kind of amazing that I hit girls. You’re brought up not to hit girls, that it’s the worst sin, and that’s what I do. But you know, gender is the last thing I think about when I’m fighting. It’s the one situation where I don’t think of gender at all.”
If gender is the last thing Fox is thinking about before she goes into a ring, then why is it the audience’s first? People are paying to watch women get in a cage and fight and that is what Fox does. She delivers what is asked of her, so why do commentators and audiences think they have the right to define her? As GQ states in their article, “Fallon Fox: The Toughest Woman in Sports” Fox is up against multiple oppressions specifically “When you are a transgender athlete, a lesbian transgender athlete, a lesbian transgender athlete who fights women in a cage, a lesbian transgender athlete who fights women in a cage and fathered a daughter, a lesbian transgender athlete who fights women in a cage and fathered a daughter and served as a man in the Navy.”
While I commend GQ for running a story that portrayed Fox honestly and favourably, I have an issue.
- Why GQ?
- Why a magazine that markets itself to men?
- Maybe because it’s an article about MMA, which typically is marketed towards men… but then why wasn’t this article included in the “Women” section that GQ purposely excludes all female related articles to?
- Also… if all of the other articles about females that GQ writes looks like this:
…then what are they subliminally saying about Fox? They’ve portrayed and treated Fox as they feature men and not as they portray women in their magazine. Thus, despite writing an honest piece about Fox’s struggles as a transgender female in MMA they’re still featuring her as a man in their magazine.
Thankfully, Fox is too determined and focused to be bothered with such petty nuances, “I just try not to think about all of the obstacles all at once. I tell myself, you know how to win. Sometimes you get beat up, but you’ve always won.”