clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

MMA fighter Fallon Fox is still the bravest athlete ever, and our Pioneer Triumph Award winner

The Outsports Triumph Awards, in partnership with NCLR, conclude by honoring trailblazer Fallon Fox.

Fallon Fox went 5-1 in her MMA career.

With efforts to discriminate growing amid an unprecedented level of anti-transgender hate spreading all around the world, Outsports has stepped up in a brand new way. Although we typically announce awards in December, when the year winds to a close, every day for the last week, we have announced a new winner of a new award.

The Outsports Triumph Awards, in partnership with NCLR, have celebrated a wide range of transgender athletes, coaches and other people working in the interest of trans competitors. Some names you knew; others are only now making a name for themselves in LGBTQ sports. Our final honoree on this Trans Day of Visibility is MMA fighter Fallon Fox, who despite stepping away from the octagon, continues to bravely fight against prejudice and hate.

MMA fighter Fallon Fox came out as transgender in 2013. Since then, she’s been slandered and maligned by some of the biggest names in media and her sport: Joe Rogan dismissed her as a “fucking man;” Dana White misgendered her and said she was “so freaking far” from competing in UFC.

And yet, she’s still here, fighting for trans inclusion in sports, and against an avalanche of antagonism. As an athlete, Fox never let the haters drive her away. She’s not going to start now.

“I felt like I belonged there, and I wasn’t going to go away,” she told Outsports recently on The Sports Kiki podcast. “I didn’t feel like I was going to give up and let them win.”

For her trailblazing status as MMA’s only openly transgender fighter, and continued powerful voice in the arena of equality, Outsports is honoring Fox with its first-ever Pioneer Triumph Award. There isn’t a more deserving recipient than the bravest athlete in sports history.

Though knee injuries halted Fox’s career in 2014, myths and flat-out lies are still being told about her. Just last month, Glenn Beck’s website, The Blaze, spread the lie that Fox broke the skull of an opponent, which is very misleading.

During a 2014 bout, Fox gave Tamika Brents an orbital bone fracture — a brutal, yet fairly common injury in MMA. The orbit is part of the facial skeleton, not the cranium, and consists of bones around the eyes.

“I’d say we see broken orbitals as the result of MMA bouts about once every two to three months at the highest levels,” Zane Simon, editor at Bloody Elbow, told our Cyd Zeigler.

“It grew into a myth that I crushed two women’s skulls, then it turned to three,” Fox said. “I’m just crushing their whole skulls, and they’re just dying, or something. The pain and the horror. People say that I’m taking it in stride, I guess, but it does bother me that people would say such things.”

There is one number that dispels the hysteria about Fox’s supposedly dangerous advantage over her opponents: her career record. Fox lost to cisgender woman Ashlee Evans-Smith in her fourth professional match. But facts don’t matter to anti-trans athlete detractors. They continue to smear Fox’s name.

“After all this time has gone, people haven’t realized that trans women don’t have advantages in the sport,” Fox said. “Just the hatred you can sense coming from a lot of people. It disgusts me.”

And where does the hatred come from?

“I think it’s all based in misogyny,” Fox said. “They think it’s that whole idea of anyone that was once male, or presented masculine behavior, should not exhibit female behavior or be female.”

All trans athletes are under attack by bigoted lawmakers, but in addition to facing vitriol from her country’s elected representatives, Fox also combats animus from her own sport. Most recently, she’s called for Spotify to pull Rogan’s podcast, after more transphobic remarks from the former UFC announcer.

Fox, who came out as transgender two years before marriage equality was even passed, is determined to keep using her platform. After all, her daughter is watching. She wants to show her what is means to be a strong woman.

“If I were to give up in life just based on what people said, I wouldn’t want her to follow that example,” Fox said.

You can follow Fox on Twitter and Instagram.

Thank you, and congratulations to Fallon, and all our winners! To read more about the Outsports Triumph Awards, including this year’s winners and many other trans sports icons we are celebrating, click here.