The paradox of Fallon’s fight: interlocking discourses of sexism and cissexism in mixed martial arts fighting

Journal: 
Issue: 
Autumn 2015
Author(s): 
10.3898/NEWF.86.04.2015

This article examines a particular cultural context where transgender acceptance and inclusion are fiercely contested: women’s professional sports. More specifically, I highlight the interlocking discourses of cissexism and sexism surrounding Fallon Fox, professional mixed martial arts’ (MMA) first openly transgender male-to-female (MTF) fighter. The interplay between arguments for transgender acceptance and assumptions of fixed sexual difference circulating in MMA blogs, radio shows, and in sports and entertainment magazines, maintains barriers for Fox’s participation in the sport. I argue that regardless of the various debates for or against her inclusion in women’s professional MMA, both sides reaffirm a patriarchal, cisgender, cissexual system of power by exaggerating ‘biologically’ sanctioned male physical dominance and ‘innate’ female physical lack. As a result, Fox’s plight is fixed within a discursive paradox as the interlocking discourses of cissexism and sexism create a double bind for trans women in combat sports. Trans MTF athletes encounter cissexism on one front and sexism on the other.       

PDF of article:
£6.67

Subscribers to New Formations can access this article for free. If you are already a subscriber please login to your account to read the article.

Subscribe to New Formations

Please note that due to EU VAT charges on digital products, the final price may be slightly different depending on the EU country in which your billing address is located.
NF 86: Sexism