Trans Exterminationalists In Their Own Words
April 11, 2013
[UPDATED] #RadFem2013 Lies, London Irish Centre Truth + a Preview of Sheila Jeffreys’ New TERF Book!
April 23, 2013

Reality Check: Fallon Fox and the Transgender Advantage

fallonfox-realitycheck


Those in her corner cite studies that show that testosterone production is diminished by several years of estrogen therapy, while adversaries contend that those studies are flawed, and that she has an unfair advantage in muscle mass.

MMA Fighting

Look, she’s huge! She’s not just huge, she’s got a fucking man’s face. I mean, you can wear all the lipstick you want. You want to be a woman and you want to take female hormones, you want to get a boob job, that’s all fine. I support your life to live, your right to live as a woman. Fight guys, yes. She has to fight guys. First of all, she’s not really a she. She’s a transgender, post-op person. The operation doesn’t shave down your bone density. It doesn’t change.

UFC’s Joe Rogan


Fallon Fox

Fallon Fox

The above two quotes capture the essence of the various criticisms lobbed at Fox. Some of the more out there commenters seem to think that her assumed Y chromosome imbued Fox with special powers/energy (apparently something like a Pokemon) which will help her win her fights. Some assert that somehow Fox looks different from all the other MMA women. Others claim that she has really thick bones while yet others claim that her bones are extremely long which gives her a dangerous advantage over all the other women of the MMA fighting world.

Folks like the MMA doctor, Johnny Benjamin claim that organizations like the International Olympic Committee only allowed trans folk to compete (in sports including boxing and martial arts) after an international conspiracy of political correctness by the trans community forced their hand:

“‘ The IOC knows.’ The IOC knows what? The IOC caved to political and social pressure.” –  Johnny Benjamin

Transphobia, sexism and vague (unfounded) claims of  conspiracies seem to represent the foundations upon which all anti-Fox arguments are built.

[li]Either Fallon’s bones are harder than all the other MMA women or they aren’t.[/li] [li]Either Fallon’s muscles are bigger than all the other MMA women or they aren’t.[/li] [li]Either there really is a powerful conspiracy forcing sporting authorities (over the last several decades) to allow trans folk to compete or there isn’t.[/li] [li]Either a fighter’s sexual appeal to males is taken into consideration when she goes through her licensing or it isn’t.[/li]

There’s an objective truth to be known about each of these questions.

Most measures of physical strength minimize, muscle mass decreases, bone density decreases, and they become fairly comparable to 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. Bowers, commenting on Fallon Fox

She’s been doing that [HRT] for so many years, that she probably does not have a significant advantage, if any at all. Especially because she wasn’t a big man when she lived as a male. She’s 5’7 and slight of build, and basically the size of an average female.
– Dr. Leis, commenting on Fallon Fox

Fallon Fox's post-investigation Florida fighting license clearing her to fight in women's MMA.

Fallon Fox’s post-investigation Florida fighting license clearing her to fight in women’s MMA.

Perhaps Florida’s boxing commission buckled and allowed Fox to fight in women’s MMA after a trans conspiracy forced their hand?

About.com defines transphobia is an irrational fear of, and/or hostility towards, people who are transgender or who otherwise transgress traditional gender norms. Rational is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as “having reason or understanding” and “relating to, based on, or agreeable to reason.

Fox's opponent's arm superimposed on top of Fox's (below).

Comparing the arm of Fox’s opponent by superimposing it on top of Fox’s arm

If Fallon’s bones aren’t harder, if she isn’t more muscular, if there’s no trans conspiracy and there’s no licensing requirement to appeal to the male gaze, then what’s really the issue here?

Official statement from Fox: 4/13/13

Official statement from Fox: 4/13/13

What are your thoughts?


tp-ff

Cristan Williams
Cristan Williams
Cristan Williams is a trans historian and pioneer in addressing the practical needs of the transgender community. She started the first trans homeless shelter in the South and co-founded the first federally funded trans-only homeless program, pioneered affordable healthcare for trans people in the Houston area, won the right for trans people to change their gender on Texas ID prior to surgery, started numerous trans social service programs and founded the Transgender Center as well as the Transgender Archives. Cristan is the editor at the social justice sites TransAdvocate.com and TheTERFs.com, is a long-term member and previous chair of the City of Houston HIV Prevention Planning Group.
  • disqus_VE8QZFagTJ

    Hmmm…with all due respect this seems like someone who has never studied human physiology and doesn’t understand the permanent effects of going through puberty as a male, no matter what the current hormonal status of the individual is. And in fact, estrogen and it’s mimetics actually INCREASE bone mineral density-this is the reason why women going thru menopause (low estrogen) are more susceptible to bone fractures because the lack of estrogen leads to increased osteoclast activity and therefore bone mineral density loss.

    I’m all for treating ALL humans with dignity and respect, but this article was clearly written by someone who is heavily biased and vastly unfamiliar with physiology and the complex and extremely different physiological-hormonal interactions which occur during puberty for men vs women

    • disqus_VE8QZFagTJ

      Ignoring the fact that estrogen helps to maintain bone density–which allowed Fox to actually maintain her pre-HRT BMD to a more significant degree than if she had never taken the exogenous estrogen. This is also ignoring the physiological advantages that occur in terms of body structure & development during puberty.

      Having elevated levels of testosterone while going through puberty leads to permanent changes in bone structure, muscle morphology, hematology, and more. Even red blood cells develop an increased oxygen carrying capacity due to testosterone.

      I see that you’ve been asking individuals to source their comments, but the reality is that you are the one who needs superior sources. Simply quoting a couple biased physicians is NOT the same as quoting peer-reviewed meta analysis. Taking a few quotes and comparing her muscle size to that of another competitor clearly illustrates your bias, your desperation to find evidence that fits your conclusion, and your inability to understand basic tenets of human physiology.

      Comparing the size of their arms in a random photo to try and prove your point that she has less muscle than her cisgender counterparts is truly ridiculous–you are completely ignoring variables such as muscle density, whole-body body fat percentage, subcutaneous body fat content, intercellular and extracellular fluid content, hydration status, amongst many others.

      I’m all for treating people with RESPECT!! But you cannot twist reality to fit your biased opinion on a topic that you clearly have not dedicated your life to studying–but I have.

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  • The only mildly plausible argument I have ever heard, which gives me some pause about our athletes competing with cis women, is the issue of nervous tissue and muscle innervation.
    While muscle mass is important for strength, another key factor is the strength and propagation of signalling in muscular nerves. People who grow up with significant testosterone in their systems typically possess larger and denser somatic nerves, which is of course to compensate with greater innervation of muscle tissue, and also permits stronger nerve signalling. This may lend to a relative advantage in muscle strength, pound for pound, compared with cis women(not exposed to considerable amounts of T).
    As for the question of whether we lose these advantages over the course of several years of HRT, it does not appear that the nervous system naturally reduces itself in this way; although I do not believe any study has been performed to answer this specific question.

    • Also, sorry if some of the terminology I’m using above is not the medically accurate nomenclature(which I just realized might make double-checking what I said difficult). I’m writing mostly off the top of my head, and I don’t have any official medical education. Any confusing use of terms is due to amateurishness, not deliberate obfuscation.

    • Please cite your source for:

      A.) The documented “normal” ranges of sexually dimorphic muscular nerves in humans.

      B.) The documented advantages of “male” muscles against “female” muscles of the same shape and mass.

      I ask because this sounds a lot like someone who was grasping at straws made these assertions at some point somewhere and you bought into it because it sounded medicalish.

      • No, I wasn’t fooled into buying it just because it sounded medicalish, I approach all that sort of “trans exceptionalism” with a heavily jaundiced eye. I also didn’t say that I even bought into it. I said that it gave me pause; and I feel that it is at least a legitimate claim worth exploring and investigating (as opposed to all that other b.s. that’s already been soundly debunked above). My first post was mostly just communicating the claim.

        As for sources, I was linked medical journal entries, and did my own survey of literature as well. I’ll have to dig through my browser history and chat logs to bring those articles up, but will post them when I find them.

        • As for sources, I was linked medical journal entries, and did my own survey of literature as well. I’ll have to dig through my browser history and chat logs to bring those articles up, but will post them when I find them.

          Great! Please make sure it’s relevant to and supportive of the conclusions you’re drawing. You need to support:

          A.) That it’s probable that Fox will have more muscular nerves than any fighter she will encounter. You need to the documented “normal” ranges of sexually dimorphic muscular nerves in humans.

          B.) That Fox is inherently better than the other women by documenting the advantages of “male” muscles against “female” muscles of the same shape and mass that’s due to muscular nerves.

          If you (or anyone else) can’t do that, then the conclusions you’re reaching are untenable.

          I’m highly skeptical. I mean, according to your conclusions, Caster Semenya would have still been better than the other women after going on HRT because she had developed muscle mass via excess T her body naturally produced upon puberty. But that’s not what happened, is it? Once she was on HRT, and her muscle mass was pulled into the female range, her advantage vanished and she was beaten. According to your conclusion, she should have still won because she would have been able to communicate with her muscles in a way that was better than the other women.

          Honestly, this sounds a lot like someone asserting some bullshit to support their a priori assertion that Fox is somehow better than all the other women and shouldn’t be allowed to compete.

      • Joe

        You are the one grasping at straws.

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