This is a guest editorial by Fallon Fox.
In part three of my editorial series confronting the misinformation spread by Joe Rogan in regards to my fighting career, I go over what is, in my opinion, one of the most widely believed "unfair advantage" claims that Rogan and many others are disseminating to the masses. Yes, I'm going to talk "the male frame" in relation to punching power.
Over and over I've watched YouTube videos of Joe Rogan's podcast from behind the facepalm of my average-sized female hands. Frustrated, I've had to deal with sitting on the other end of public comments like:
"The mechanical function of punching. A man can do it much harder than a woman can PERIOD!" … "There are mechanical advantages to being a man which are absolutely undeniable. The size of the hands, the width of the shoulders, the fact that you've had testosterone freely flowing through your body for 30 years." ... "I'm watching the way she's beating up on these people. The mechanical advantages are still there. If you look at her, her shoulders are wide her arms are huge." … "There's just a massive advantage to the male frame when it comes to combat sports."
Even some of Joe Rogan's guests have gotten into the action with statements like, "I draw the line when you have dude shoulders and man hands and you're gonna go up there against Christina. That's not fair!"
Quite frankly, I'm done hearing all of this. So, it's time to lay this nonsense out cold.
Fallon Fox's editorial series
Fallon Fox's editorial series
Have you ever watched the show "Sports Science?" It's pretty much the Mythbusters of the sports world. They have teams of people who do little science experiments right there on TV for the whole world to see. A little while back they had an episode where they pitted one of the best female boxers on the planet against both an Olympic boxer and a professional MMA fighter in her same weight class. The team measured their per-punch impact via sensors and other electronic equipment. In the end, the result--which was surprising to most--was that she actually hit harder then the men. What most viewers had suspected was that the muscle mass of the male fighter would give the added power to prevail in this contest. They thought this because they knew what it appears Joe Rogan does not know. They understood that force equals mass times acceleration. That it's the muscles that move every every ounce of human flesh [including bone] that would all be lifeless without it. That the more muscle one has, the more MASS one has. We call this "muscle mass." It was supposed to be an open-and-shut case. But what really happened? What were the results?
The surprising results were that Lucia Rijker metaphorically cleaned her opponents' clock. She was able to generate 922 pounds of force. Her boxing opponent generated 710 pounds of force, and pro MMA fighter Houston Alexander generated an equal amount of force as Lucia Rijker. They even did a blindfolded test to see how it "feels" to the human body to be punched by both Lucia and the Olympic boxer. The results? The subject could not tell the difference when punched by either fighter. In the end, the team that did the test concluded that that it was Lucia's perfect form that made her punch harder than the men. She was able to use her "female frame" to move her "female muscle mass" in a way that generated more force than her opponents "male frames" and "male muscle mass."
I can hear the voices already, "Well, those two dudes weren't pro boxers. You gotta compare the best with the best!" Let's investigate this. Do you want to know how much force professional boxer Manny Pacquiao has been recorded as generating?
Pacquiao generated 810 pounds of force, which is 112 pounds of force less than Lucia. And he weighs 147 pounds, so Lucia Rijker weighs less than him, and has less muscle mass in her arms chest and back at 140 pounds. If the mechanics of the male frame was a massive advantage in punching how would this even be possible? Surely, if the advantage were to be massive Pacquiao's male frame would overcome whatever slight technique that he may possibly be missing on that level of skill to exert more force than Lucia. But, as we can clearly observe this is not the case. Lucia, the Olympic boxer, and Pacquiao have elite-level technique. You just can't get more proficient at punching higher than them. Yet, when it's all put together, Lucia hits harder... and she has a female frame. What's up with that?
I would think that the female frame would likely have the opposite effect in compensating for the lack of male muscle mass than what Rogan suggests. But, on a separate note -- I won't go saying to the public that this is a thing that "is," and use it against any fighter to cast doubt on their abilities while in the process unnecessarily affecting their career with a feeling I pull out of my ass. No, I will not do that. I'll stick with what I know. I'll stick with the information that I gather from people who actually measure these things. What they have measured, and the consensus that I hear from medical and scientific professionals, is that muscle mass is what adds or subtracts from punching power.
The punching power unfair advantage claim is much like the "large jaw" unfair advantage claim I've heard on Rogan's show. I believe that Joe thinks that I have -- as he has stated on his podcast about transgender athletes -- "different jaw structure which changes your ability to take punishment." Again, this is an extremely uneducated belief. I've searched and searched and I can find no evidence to suggest that a bigger jaw equates to a change in ability to take punishment. I've never seen or heard that even suggested in all of my years of training. And I challenge Joe Rogan to produce this evidence. I believe what Joe is referencing in a fighters "chin." Not their physical chin, mind you, but a fighter's ability to take a punch without taking neurological damage and telling the brain to shut down resulting in a knockout or being "rocked".
What actually happens when someone takes a devastating hit is that their brain floating inside of the liquid of the skull smacks the inner lining of the skull resulting in the brain's neurons taking damage. If the head is more stationary, the brain does not get jostled so much. It has nothing to do with the jaw. Besides, it's visually apparent that I don't have a large "manly" jaw. I made sure that my jaw was in "female range" years ago, because I had what is called jawline reduction, and chin reduction surgery. It's where they go inside of your mouth, cut the lining away in between your bottom lip and gums all the way around from one side of the jaw to the other, go in with tools and grind the bones away until the jaw is in female range. I assume that Joe is unaware that this is even possible, or that commissions are aware I've had this done?
As I said earlier, my jaw is irrelevant anyway. What is relevant in this context is the muscles of the neck. It's why holding one's chin down while fighting helps prevent knockouts. The trapezius muscles have a lot more leverage to hold one's head in place at this angle. As I've said from the beginning, my muscles no longer have the benefits of large amounts active testosterone. I match, or am below other professional women's strength in this regards because of that. I am as easy to knock out as any other female fighter out there on the professional level in this context.
By the way, I had a small head for a male, and I have an average head now as a female. I know this from the hat sizes that I used to wear while in the military, and from day to day interactions with people. Everyone who isn't trying to poke unnecessary fun at me simply being a transgender woman notices this. I shouldn't even have to type this out. Everyone can see this in photos and video of me. But, somehow there's this false notion going around that I have a big head which is rather ridiculous. But, here again, having a big head wouldn't be a factor for taking damage to punches even if mine were big. Again, keeping the head stationary is the key. I challenge Joe Rogan to produce evidence that a thicker jaw results in less damage taken to a fighter. In my opinion this is as arbitrary as saying that large cheekbones protect from damage.
It seems that commissions which license me understand all that I am saying. It's why I'm licensed. They also understand that after transgender reassignment surgery, the bodies ability to create large amounts of testosterone becomes even less than "cisgender" women born with "normal" female sexual characteristics] women's ability to do so.
In my opinion commissions understand:
- That if a transgender woman is non-athletic before transition, they'll be non-athletic after transition. They will fall into the female range of competitive physical characteristics with other cisgenderwomen. Transition makes transgender women the female version of their original selves in this regards.
- They understand that if a transgender person is a super athlete before transition, they'll be super athlete after transition. They will fall into the female range of competitive physical characteristics with cisgender women. Transition makes transgender women the female version of their original selves in this regards.
- They understand that I was athletic before transition. That I was a high school wrestler, that I had four years of military service where I kept up on my physical conditioning, that I kept up on my physical conditioning throughout the years after that until beginning transition, and that after my transition I became a woman who looked and performed like a cisgender woman who had been through everything that I had been through. The transition made me the female version of my original self.\
There is more unfortunate misinformation out there. For example, episode #574 of Joe Rogan's podcast featured Dr. Mark Gordon who spoke to Rogan about transgender women in sports. While the doctor seemed to update Joe on some things that were incorrect, I believe he was also off on a few things. In my opinion, the reason behind this is because he is not an expert doctor that deals directly with many or perhaps any transgender patients. There is some data that he is clearly not privy to. So when he expressed, "I think the biggest problem in this one case that you're talking about is that there's really no precedence. There's no wealth of documentation where they've actually looked at someone who goes from male to female and goes into male sports...whether it's wrestling or grappling or MMA whatever the situation is and baseball."
Unfortunately for Dr. Gordon, he was wrong. There is plenty of precedent. He's just too far removed from this area of expertise to notice. He seems to be unaware of the transgender athletes that have competed over the years around the world since transgender athlete Renee Richards first stepped foot on the tennis court as an openly identifying transgender woman. Since then, transgender women have competed in sports over, and over, and over again. Parinya Charoenphol ( A.K.A. Nong Tum ) , Donna Rose, Kayley Whalen, Michelle Dumaresq, Renee Richards, Hillary Thompson, Lana Lawless, Gabbi Ludwig, and Kristen Worley are just a handful of names of out transgender athletes that have competed over the years. If they were dominating because they were transgender women with "unfair advantages," you'd think they would be household names. They are not because they don't have the unfair advantages people think they have to "cheat" and become easy champions as many think they can.
This is an example of a transgender person who was extremely in shape, has transitioned, was previously a competitive biker, and now plays sports. You can actually visually observe the muscle mass loss over time in this video. My good friend and sister military veteran Sona Avedian is now out as a transgender woman, a former male athlete, and is competing in biking with no problems. And from what I hear, she is in no way the fastest female biker out there.
This is an example of a person who was non-athletic before transition to female.
Notice how after transition the individuals become the female embodiment of their male selves in relation to athleticism. This also relates to techniques in their sports, because techniques are the same whether they be male or female. Therefore this whole "male imprinting" idea in relation to knowledge of techniques is bogus.
One has to also realize that many times once a transgender person comes out in their sport, policy is enacted to on one hand ensure that the transgender athlete is within competitive range by medical doctors, and on the other hand to protect the athlete's private medical history. All of that information is considered private, as it should be. Sometimes a transgender woman will tell a commission or sports body that she is transgender, get tested, compete and you'll never hear about it. But, it is not as if the medical history -- the documentation -- does not exist. Remember, there are other transgender women throughout sports and possibly even in MMA that are competing this very moment who are licensed or approved.
On a personal note. I receive emails and messages all of the time from transgender people actively competing who are in the closet that nobody knows about. Even more contact me that are training to compete someday. Out of all the transgender humans that I have met online, in person, or have read in history books none of them are champions with records topping all of the other women in their sports. Which is not something one would expect if transgender "unfair advantages" actually existed. No, our competitive results parallel the competitive results of cisgender women.
I know, I know, "How do you know that Fallon Fox?"
Well, looking up those transgender women I listed to find out if any one of them are considered number one in their sport could be one method of finding this out. I believe Joe Rogan has talked about trangender athletes Renee Richards and Michelle Dumaresq, and I seem to recall him alluding to them dominating. However, in my opinion they did not. They both did average to slightly above average in what many would consider the professional level in their sports. They won smaller tournaments or matches within their sports. But, when they got to the higher levels they were eliminated. Neither one of them were considered the "the best" over all other women in their sports. They were good and on point, but not good enough to overcome the advantages of other women. Not one single transgender person since Renee Richards' first competition in 1976 has racked up a record that is better than all of the other females in their sport. There are No. 1's. While they may seem like they are dominating when they first join the women's divisions because that person appears to just arrive out of the blue with a decent amount of talent. One must realize that often these women have been training hardcore as women while itching for the chance to get in the game years before they actually compete in the women's divisions. So, they are talented "nobodies" that become immediate "somebodies" when they come out. To outsiders of their previous hidden training, many seem to wonder how this is possible. "She just came out of nowhere!" But, they are missing a large chunk of that transgender woman's history of training. That transgender woman is often more skilled than those cisgender women who first appear in novice divisions because of this. And when she reaches the higher levels, things start to change. The skill level evens out, things get a lot more tough for the transgender woman.
Another way to find out whether transgender women are dominating in sports is to consult those who have the data in their hands. As Dr. Sherry Wulkan the American Boxing Association's medical chair has stated, "If you look across the board from Olympic competitions etc., etc., there really is no clear-cut advantage. There's a bell curve on whether or not transgender athletes are actually winning or losing and it kind of fits the natural curve."
Dr. Wulkan is speaking of the data and history, the established precedents set by transgender athletes. This is the information that Dr. Gordon in his lack of expertise on the subject does not have.
To the rational mind, the only way to describe Joe Rogan and Dr. Gordon's back-and-forth is an excruciatingly painful experience. The "unfair advantages"discussed on episode #574 in my opinion are always hypothetically based upon wild assumption. For instance the doctor stated he would have to know my body's chemistry, and that my "unfair advantages" would be there if I supplemented with testosterone. The idea being that without the testosterone supplementation I lose muscle mass -- as he stated. Someone presenting all these so-called unfair advantages about bone structure as fact, while vaguely suggesting that I supplement with testosterone is, in my opinion, unfair and somewhat suggestive.
I am not supplementing testosterone. I have submitted my hormone levels to commissions. They are able to tell that I'm not supplementing testosterone. They are able to see that my testosterone levels hold steady normally around 12 - 19 nanograms per deciliter or so if I recall. Your average cisgender woman falls around 20 to 80 nanograms per deciliter. As I have repeated over and over again, I have less testosterone than cisgender women. Honestly, I don't understand why anyone would suspect that I would even take testosterone supplements. Because transgender women are inherently abusers of testosterone or something? Some transgender women supplement testosterone for libido or energy, but so do cisgender women with lower testosterone all the time. It is not absolutely necessary to supplement testosterone for either transgender or cisgender women.
Is there some type of, "transgender woman just can't stay away from testosterone injections!" stereotype that I don't know about? And what's up with the unnecessary framing? Why even add that into the conversation when talking about me? Other female fighters have the ability to supplement testosterone also if they feel so inclined, so can men. Why single me out? Is it something about the way I look?
That last one is a question I've been pondering since I first came out. How in the world do some people look at the side-by-side photos of myself and fighters such as Erica Newsome and Julia Budd and say that by the looks of things I am stronger. They are clearly appear to have more muscle mass than I do, as wide or even wider shoulders, and similarly sized hips. They are certainly not the only other female fighters that dwarf me in comparison. I bring this up often and many get it. But, to many of the hardcore critics demanding "segregate Fallon Fox!", those other women are invisible. Those who are able to admit the obvious are left staring at the willfully blind with raised eyebrows and scratching their heads.
Furthermore, this constant talk about men's advantages when my name is brought up has got to end. It's my opinion men's advantages are thrown into conversation to convince the listeners that transgender women including myself have the advantages of men. Some fans of Rogan often write me or post online repeating his words nearly verbatim. Many repeat that what he says is fact. Even my last opponent, Tamikka Brents, said in a recent interview, "I agree with Joe Rogan, he's put out so many medical journals that say you have an advantage."
That's a statement that to my knowledge is completely untrue. What scientific journals? What day did he release them? There is this belief out there that what Rogan and his guest are saying on his show are scientifically documented and therefore true. But, in my opinion, the vast majority of what he says about transgender women's anatomy is incredibly false. In my opinion there are many layers of smoke screens that in my case are released to distract the public from the reality of what is actually going on with my body. Some eat up these untrue statements as facts without even checking. They unfortunately have faith in Rogan and his crew, likely because he's made them laugh, he's a celebrity, and a Jiu Jitsu black belt. They have so much faith in him that they ignore the doctors and medical personnel who have specialized in transgender patients. Remember, these transgender patients are often competing athletes.
"Genetically you're always going to be a male.", Dr. Gordon goes on to say on episode #574 in reference to advantages. What does this truly even mean in this context, and how does this even factor into a competitive advantage? In my opinion, this is another convenient smokescreen.
My genes are XY, but they don't have tiny little crotches with erect penises delivering testosterone to my body or something ridiculous like that. I can only imagine that is a mental picture in the mind of Joe Rogan and Dr. Gordon. To my knowledge XY chromosomes by themselves do NOT make me stronger, or give me more endurance, or make me quicker, or give me more aggression, or any of the supposed unfair advantages that have been stated. My family's genetic history does that. Meaning my ancestors may have within their genes more optimal genetics for sports whether I be male or female, and that more optimal genetics expressed itself in me. But, that has nothing to do with the shape of my XY chromosomes. I challenge Joe Rogan and Dr. Gordon to produce evidence that XY cromosomes make one athletically superior outside of gonads producing hormones after or during puberty. This is important. Because, as I keep pointing out what gives the athletic edge in this context is the testosterone from the gonads of humans with XY chromosomes, not the XY chromosomes themselves. It's why when female-bodied humans take massive amounts of testosterone their bodies perform like men's, or become male while lacking genitalia of other humans with XY chromosomes. Think transgender men. It's why many people say they have no problem with transgender women competing in MMA if they transition before puberty before the body begins to release massive amount of testosterone. Remember, those transgender people have XY chromosomes also and those chromosomes do not give them unfair advantages. I'm perplexed as to how that even slipped out of Dr. Gordon's mouth. I'd like him to explain how having XY chromosomes by themselves give one an advantage in this context. Meaning, with transgender women only. Not male bodied humans who have gonads and testosterone running through their bodies from said gonads.
Now that I've explained the in and outs of why commissions and doctors have found absolutely no reason to believe that I have an unfair advantage, perhaps some may begin to understand why I felt--and still feel--that transgender women do not need to inform other competitors of their transgender status. The reason that I have heard given for the demand of some to tell opponents our medical history has been, "We'd like to be able to properly prepare for this!". How does one "properly prepare" for a trangender opponent? What does one need added time to prepare for? As I've pointed out my opinion is there is absolutely no reason to believe there are unfair advantages. I've asked this question often to those who protest. They never seem to be able to answer that question. Much like Erica Newsome on CNN they stutter, get flustered, and can never really get down to a rational thoughtfully explained answer. They just regurgitate the bogus claims of Joe a Rogan and others.
I'm believe I am correct in what I say and I've laid it all out here. I challenge Joe Rogan to counter me with evidence to the contrary. Yes, I am getting directly in his face and calling him out. I'm frustrated not only by what I feel in my opinion is misinformation disseminated by Rogan, but what looks like is his unwillingness to apologize for what I feel are horrible transphobic comments about me. I've given him ample time to do this publicly yet I've heard nothing. And I'm still flabbergasted how he is still a commentator for the UFC -- an organization that I am striving to be hired for -- and is allowed to say things to my knowledge he is not reprimanded for. The question immediately springs to my mind, "why is this?"