Transgender MMA fighter Fallon Fox puts California panel on the spot

As head of Georgia’s small state athletic commission last year, Andy Foster sat through an Assn. of Boxing Commissions discussion he believed was a bizarre waste of time: How to deal with post-operative transgender athletes.

Now, Foster is the executive officer of the California State Athletic Commission and the topic has never been more relevant.

Transgender female fighter Fallon Fox told Sports Illustrated on Monday that she was a man before undergoing surgery in 2006. Fox has won two pro women’s mixed martial arts fights, including a recent knockout victory in Florida, where she is scheduled to fight again April 20.

Her fight promoter, Championship Fighting Alliance, has announced it will keep Fox in its MMA tournament despite the revelation.

Fox has worked to ease concerns of a major competitive advantage, telling Outsports, “They think she must be stronger, because she used to be a male. But if they look at the science of it, and what the hormones do to the male body, taken over a period of two to three years, it dissipates. That’s what they found, and which is one of the reasons why the International Olympic Committee has allowed post-operative trans people to participate in the Olympics.”


But Florida licensed Fox after she falsely stated that she was already licensed in California. Now her Florida license is under review as California weighs her case, too.

While the International Olympic Committee and NCAA have established standards for post-operative transgender athletes to compete, combat fighting is a different situation, California’s Foster says, and will require more extensive scrutiny by the state athletic commission’s medical advisory panel.

Currently, the Assn. of Boxing Commissions has aligned with the IOC policy, under which males who become females are not eligibible for athletic competition unless they have undergone sex reassignment surgery and two years of hormone therapy (testosterone suppression).

The ABC additionally notes that transgender athletes are subject to standard testing for testosterone and steroids.

The NCAA has a softer position, not requiring surgeries and demanding just one year of testosterone suppression.

The California commission “is going to have to decide how it will handle transgender athletes,” in a meeting that will take place by early next month, said Russ Heimerich, spokesman for the athletic commission’s parent agency, the Department of Consumer Affairs.

“The question is not if we will allow them to compete, but how we go about it – when do we consider a transgender make a female?”

Foster said the California medical advisory panel will require “substantially more stuff than what,” Fox “has provided us thus far.”

Heimerich said Fox submitted her application to California in February.

“I don’t know what we’ll adopt, something similar to the Olympics or not,” Heimerich said. “I don’t think this has ever come up.”


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