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UFC Delivers Body Slam to Transphobic Wrestler

UFC Delivers Body Slam to Transphobic Wrestler

The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has suspended a wrestler for transphobic slurs made against fellow fighter Fallon Fox, who recently came out as a transgender woman.

Matt Mitrione, speaking on the MMA Hour on Monday, launched into a disgusting tirade about Fox, saying she was a fraud and comparing her to Buffalo Bill from Silent Witness. When challenged by the host why Mitrione was so bothered by Fox’s identity, Mitrione replied: ”because she’s not a he. He’s a he.” He continued to misgender Fox throughout the segment, saying:

“He’s chromosomally a man. He had a gender change, not a sex change. He’s still a man. He was a man for thirty-one years. Thirty-one years! That’s a couple years younger than I am. He’s a man. Six years of taking performance de-hancing [sic] drugs, you think is going to change all that? That’s ridiculous…. That is a lying, sick, sociopathic, disgusting freak.

“And I mean that. Because you lied on your license to beat up women. That’s disgusting. You should be embarrassed yourself. And the fact that Florida licensed him because California licensed him or whoever the hell did it, it’s an embarrassment to us as fighters, as a sport, and we all should protest that. The woman that’s fighting him, props to you. I hope you beat his ass, and I hope he gets blackballed and never fights again, because that’s disgusting and I’m appalled by that.”

Fox came out  as a transgender woman earlier this year, making her the first known transgender fighter in the UFC.

number of medical experts have spoken out that, after her long stint on routine courses of hormone treatments, Fox will have no advantage in the ring. They have further said that in terms of drug testing, she will be held to the same standards as other women (there should be little to no discrepancy in testosterone levels) and that Fallon is the same as any other female competitor in the sport.

Fox was not required to declare her gender transition or the date she completed her physical transition (2006) in order to obtain her license from Florida state. A subsequent review has found she broke no rules in the process she went through to obtain a license.

Fox has responded to Mitrione’s comments with grace, saying:

“Matt Mitrione went well beyond disagreeing with the medical experts who say I should be able to compete as a woman, and personally attacked me as a fighter, as a woman, and as a human being.”

“His comments do not reflect the spirit of our sport, where most competitors uphold values like respect and dignity.”

The UFC was quick to issue the following statement regarding Mitrione’s conduct:

“The UFC was appalled by the transphobic comments made by heavyweight Matt Mitrione today in an interview on ‘The MMA Hour,’” the statement read. “The organization finds Mr. Mitrione’s comments offensive and wholly unacceptable and – as a direct result of this significant breach of the UFC’s code of conduct – Mr. Mitrione’s UFC contract has been suspended and the incident is being investigated. The UFC is a friend and ally of the (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) community, and expects and requires all 450 of its athletes to treat others with dignity and respect.”

While some fighters have reportedly expressed concerns that Fox may hold an advantage in the ring, Fox has not been short of challengers and will fight Allanna Jones on May 24.

Though, as GLAAD points out, Fox’s disclosure has been a talking point for many commentators, nearly all condemned Mitrione’s public attack on Fallon. Many of those who follow the sport have also gone to lengths, as evidenced here, to ensure a respectful discourse about Fallon’s impact on the sport, though there have been a number of reports that have fallen short of that mark.

The UFC’s handling of this issue – despite some perceived inconsistencies — has won it no small amount of praise, and has served to promote the sport as the Mitrione/Fallon story received national coverage from Yahoo and CNN, to name just a few.

LGBTs in Sports: A Slowly Changing Landscape

In recent years, a number of people in high profiled sports or having just left high-profiled sports have come out.

Most recently, boxer Orlando Cruz made international headlines for coming out, and also for successive wins thereafter. Soccer star Megan Rapinoe made headlines last year when, before representing the USA and winning with her team at the London 2012 Olympics, she confirmed, yes, she is gay.

However, soccer and football largely remain stubbornly entrenched in a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” quagmire.

Ex-soccer player Robbie Rogers came out this year at the same time he announced he was leaving soccer, later revealing that he could not even think about staying in the sport under its current atmosphere. Anton Hysen remains the only out soccer player in the game.

In American football, too, where big money and sponsorship deals shape the discourse, LGBT rights and LGBT inclusion remain an issue of contention. However, things might be about to change.

Outspoken gay rights supporter Brendon Ayanbadejo, recently cut from the Ravens, is quoted as saying that four NFL players are close to coming out, and that they are organizing to come out on the same day so as to create a watershed moment in the sport.

This will not come without a cost, however. We know there are a number of players who have vocally opposed openly gay players in the same way that several UFC fighters — though perhaps not with so much vitriol — are rallying against Fox’s inclusion in the sport.

Being openly LGBT in sports is still difficult. There’s no question about that. However, we have seen and continue to see evidence that with strong leadership, sport governing bodies can set a tone and make LGBT inclusion a reality.

 

Related Reading:

Football Club Dismisses Player Over Anti-Gay Tweet

NFL Players Ready to Welcome Gay Teammates

12 People We Are Grateful Came Out in 2012

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Image credit: Thinkstock.

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84 comments

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12:30PM PDT on Apr 20, 2013

Grazie per la condivisione.

9:01AM PDT on Apr 18, 2013

Leslea H

Do you have any other examples apart from you and your friend? If you are based on only ONE personal example, I find that it is a bit pretentious of you to say that only people with zero ideas would say otherwise when you don't supply any information to back up your statement.

Some people ARE genetically advantaged for building muscle more that others so don't say that it is BS. Obviously training and skill are involved BUT the majority of trained natal males will be bigger and stronger than the majority of trained natal females and that is a FACT and not MOOT.

Males are simply designed to be stronger because of many factors (testosterone being one of the biggest) and no matter how much a female trains, although she can become more skillful than her male counterpart, she will never have the same build as a male, quite simply because she is not designed that way (not enough testosterone).

So you see I AM saying otherwise and I have plenty of ideas and knowledge on the subject.

Leigh

2:08PM PDT on Apr 17, 2013

I am so glad transphobia is being taken a lot more seriously these days.

1:53AM PDT on Apr 17, 2013

Thank you.

12:21AM PDT on Apr 17, 2013

Great Article Shared

12:02AM PDT on Apr 17, 2013

ty

8:01PM PDT on Apr 16, 2013

You know if this had been Vince McMahon he would have turned this sick junk into a story line...

3:30PM PDT on Apr 16, 2013

This is a very interesting story, with compelling points on both sides. If Matt wanted to voice an opinion, it should be allowed (not as a UFC representative), but to the extent he used was very derogatory and inappropriate. If one can't find a nice way to say it, don't say it. My husband has been watching the Ultimate Fighter reality show, and all of these guys know Dana White won't tolerate any b.s., and he doesn't want contenders representing the UFC and their views. Hubby says: On season 10 or 11 Matt comes across as an ignoramus to begin with, so, most of what comes out of his mouth is going to be derogatory.

7:28AM PDT on Apr 16, 2013

@Annelies H. and others making the same point. It doesn't matter if he is making a valid point. By saying Fox is a "lying, sick, sociopathic, disgusting freak" he shows he is prejudicial. The UFC did the right thing by suspending his contract.

6:48AM PDT on Apr 16, 2013

Thank you for sharing this story...Perhaps some things ARE changing....

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