Fallon Fox, credit to Michiel Thomas of Game Face Documentary.

The Feministing Five: Fallon Fox

This week we were thrilled to speak with the incredible MMA fighter and advocate Fallon Fox! 

Fallon FoxFallon Fox began training as a Mixed Martial Arts Fighter in 2008, went pro, and is now the first openly trans athlete in her sport. She has spoken out about the importance of supporting trans athletes on and off the field. And she herself continues to overcome prejudice and ignorance, especially through her awesome 5:1:0 record.

And now without further ado, the Feministing Five with Fallon Fox!

Suzanna Bobadilla: Thank you so much for speaking with us today. To get started, could you first describe how you started competing in women’s Mixed Martial Arts fighting? 

Fallon Fox: I was in an average workout gym, and there was an instructor there who saw me hitting a punching bag. I asked him how to hit the punching bag the right way. He said that if I really, really wanted to learn how to do this, hitting the punching bag, I should go to an MMA gym. I went to the MMA gym, and I saw women there who were working out and it was inspirational.

I looked online and I saw women’s MMA videos, especially a lot of the Japanese fighters, and I got sucked into the sport. The training was excellent, and the sisterhood that I felt from those other fighters in the gym sucked me right in.

SB: What’s one of your favorite moments from your career? 

FF: Right now, it’s my last win over Tamikka Brents. That was a totally dominating fight, it was wonderful, and it put me back on top.

SB: When we talk about sports and fitness, it is still so fraught with gender binaries and expectations for athletes’ gender presentation on and off the field. What are some ways that we could move past that and to make sport more inclusive? 

FF: Cutting out misogyny is step number one. It’s misogyny [that limits] people’s ability to play in men’s sports and women’s sports. Because of course it’s hard for gay men to compete in more aggressive sports because of misogyny — in the misogynist mind-frame, why would you want to be anything like a woman? Like, having sex with another man, or if they are expressive with their emotions, or if they like the color pink and like to wear it. That has to go from men’s sports too, and that’s misogyny. We wipe that out, and then it trickles down to everything else.

SB: Do you have any words of encouragement for young trans athletes who are competing in the sports and the activities they love? 

FF: Keep fighting, keep fighting. Things are changing, and if you are ever having any problems you can always contact Chris Mosier of TransAthletes.Org. Reach out to other trans athletes online to get a support network. And you can reach out to places like GLAAD if you are having problems in your sport. You can also reach out to me. We can work the problem. It’s always going to be hard, especially with the more robust sports with the misogyny that is out there, but stick to your guns. Remember who you are, remember what you are, remember that you have done nothing wrong and do what you need to do.

SB: What’s a question that you never want to hear asked again? And what’s a question that you would like to hear more often? 

FF: That question about questions is a good question! I never want to hear, “Why did you transition?” I’m likely going to have to keep answering that for the rest of my life just because of the ignorance that is out there. The answer is gender dysphoria, and if you don’t know what that is, look it up. A question that I would like to be asked more of me is, “How did you enjoy that last fight?” Because I like to talk about more sports-oriented things, but I’m forced to get out of that for my sake and for the sake of the community.

SB: How was that last fight? 

FF: It was great! As I was saying earlier, it was with Tamikka Brents and it was a complete domination, a complete domination. At first, when I went into it, people were scared. They didn’t know if I was going to win or not because she is strong. If you see her arms, it’s ridiculous. She had a pretty record, but of course, technique and will prevailed.

SB: Okay so I have a personal question for you. I’m trying to become stronger (the goal is to lift my suitcase in the overhead bin without help), and it’s difficult because I’m trying to resist some bullshit expectations on what it looks like for a young woman to exercise and be healthy. I feel like I have this mental block and I was wondering if you have any suggestions on how to move past it? 

FF: I suppose I have to know a bit more. What do you feel is blocking you?

SB: Okay, I have never, ever been strong in my entire life. 

FF: Mentally strong or physically strong?

SB: Physically strong. When I try to get strong, I feel like I look like a complete idiot, and it’s so frustrating. 

FF: Did you play sports when you were a child?

SB: I played basketball until I was in high school, but I was that kid with the glasses and inhaler trying to make it down the court. I love basketball, and it’s a great tragedy that I’m so awful at it. 

FF: I think the main thing that people should realize is that not everyone is going to develop the same way. Not all women are going to look the same. Some people might have genetically — and we aren’t talking about trans issues here — more advantages than other ones. Some are going to be stronger, smarter, more athletic. I don’t say that to discourage anyone or you, but just focus on your development and try not to focus on everyone else around you. It’s hard when someone looks at an athletic woman on a billboard that says, “Come to our gym!” and you freak out, “Oh my god! I want to look like that.” But it’s not possible for everyone to. Just focus on how you want to perform.

SB: Let’s pretend you are stranded on a desert island. You can take with you one food, one drink, and one feminist. What do you pick? 

FF: I’d take a delux pizza. It’s got my carbs, my dairy, my veggies, so I’d be set there. I’d take water, lots of clean purified water. For a feminist, I’d take Julia Serano — her books have changed my life.

San Francisco, CA

Suzanna Bobadilla is a writer, activist, and digital strategist. According to legend, she first publicly proclaimed that she was a feminist at the age of nine in her basketball teammate's mini-van. Things have obviously since escalated. After graduating from Harvard in 2013, she became a founding member of Know Your IX's ED ACT NOW. She is curious about the ways feminists continue to use technology to create social change and now lives in San Francisco. She believes that she has the sweetest gig around – asking bad-ass feminists thoughtful questions for the publication that has taught her so much. Her views, bad jokes and all, are her own. For those wondering, if she was stranded on a desert island and had to bring one food, one drink, and one feminist, she would bring chicken mole, a margarita, and her momma.

Suzanna Bobadilla is a writer, activist, and digital strategist.

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