(Fallon Fox before and after pic, via TMZ)
One of the great thing about this Fallon Fox transexual fighter story is that it wasn’t greeted by a bunch of ignorant morons going “Blah gross freak! Perversion of nature and God’s will!” Instead, people are trying to determine via some sort of scientific basis whether her participation in the sport is safe and fair. Score one for diversity and tolerance! Now let’s hear from some fancy smart medical doctor types. First Dr. Marci Bowers, who knows a little bit about sexual reassignment surgery since she herself had one and has performed hundreds of others:
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.
Now onto Dr Sherman Leis from the Philadelphia Center for Transgender Surgery:
She’s been doing that (hormone therapy) 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. Factor in that she’s been on hormones for so long, and has had the surgery, she more than likely has the muscle mass, bone density and strength of most females.
But MMA Junkie’s resident Dr Johnny Benjamin disagrees:
The issue here is if it’s safe or not. That’s the only thing I care about. Do we know enough about it to say if it’s safe or not? The problem with the transgender issue, specifically male to female, is that there is not enough scientific information out there to say if it’s safe enough to allow this to go on. If you don’t know if it’s safe, we have to err on the side of safety, which says until we get more information, we cannot go forward with this.
Gender reassignment happens after puberty. One of the things that happens during puberty, is that boys grow 15-20 cm taller than girls. The average height of men is greater than the average height of women. In addition to bone density, there is also the issue of longer bones in men. Longer bones lead to some mechanical advantages that shorter bones don’t have.
The argument is that “They’ve become a woman because they’ve had the surgery and taken the hormones.’ The hormones will certainly make your phenotype. The different hormone therapies are very good at changing that, but they don’t change those things that happen to you during puberty. The length of your bones don’t change. The mean muscle surface area doesn’t change a great deal.
Now while you can agree with the notion that not enough data = we don’t know if it’s safe = this should not be allowed, Dr Benjamin’s reasoning kinda goes off the tracks afterwards where he tries to medically justify why it might not be safe. ‘Longer bones’ being a legit and somehow dangerous thing doesn’t make much sense. And by mean muscle surface does he mean the general frame all this she-man muscle is now being built on?
I suppose it’s not surprising that Johnny isn’t into this. Just a few years ago he tried to say that women shouldn’t compete in five minute MMA rounds because they fatigue faster than men, leading to increased injury. I used the handy logic skills developed during my strenuous high school education to tear that intelligent argument apart, but this time I’ll just let the statements from the first two doctors stand as a counterpoint.
(Via Reddit, Fallon Fox’s last opponent)