LOS ANGELES – Trans former Mixed Martial Arts fighter Fallon Fox, who has not competed in the octagon since retiring in 2014 due to knee injuries, has some fighting words for the BBC and The Daily Mail after a June radio interview about transgender athletes.
For weeks, British media outlets have been bashing Fox, the first out trans MMA fighter and a resident of Los Angeles, calling her a “biological male” who boasted “about the physical harm committed against their political opponents.”
Fox tells the Los Angeles Blade she stands by her words and vows to never talk to the BBC again. The retired “Queen of Swords” also defended her decision to trash talk about trans exclusionary radical feminists, known as TERFs. “It’s part of MMA culture to talk smack about opponents. You see it all the time,” a fact borne out by the millions of views of YouTube videos featuring smack-talking MMA fighters. “Only when I do it people take issue with it.”
On June 20, Fox was interviewed by telephone for a BBC radio show alongside former swimmer Karen Pickering of the UK The day before, Pickering was among those at a FINA conference voting to ban trans women who had experienced male puberty from competing with cisgender athletes, as the Los Angeles Blade reported.
But it’s what happened after the radio program ended that’s sparked controversy.
The very next day, a British anti-trans athlete organization called Fair Play For Women shared a screengrab of a 2020 tweet by Fox, asking the BBC what it was thinking in booking her on its show.
The BBC formally apologized to the trans inclusion opponents group last week in a letter reported by The Telegraph.
According to the report by the British newspaper, a representative of the BBC Complaints Unit said it was “unaware of previous comments made by Fallon Fox” and if it was, “we would have conducted the interview differently.” The rep added, “We have discussed your concerns with the team responsible and we’d like to apologize for this oversight.”
In response, Dr. Nicola Williams, director of Fair Play For Women, told The Telegraph: “If you knew that Fallon Fox was a trans fighter, you’d also know what Fallon Fox had said. It’s either that the woke producers didn’t do the basics with research, or they didn’t care. This apology means nothing unless they also issue an on-air clarification—they must do due diligence on this topic by bringing on true experts, not just trans people for the sake of it.”
The BBC has not to respond to our request for a response the group’s demand as of press time.
“They frame it as I’m a ‘transgender athlete who boasted of violence against women’ as if I was talking about fighting all women in the MMA cage,” Fox told the Los Angeles Blade in a private online conversation on Facebook Messenger Saturday. I specifically mentioned TERFs. And I had good reason to call them that and feel that way about it. Especially since our jobs were to actually try to beat each other up.”
Fox said in her 2020 tweet, she was referring specifically to MMA fighters Erica Newsome and Tamikka Brents, both of whom called it “unfair” for Fox to compete against cisgender women. Both Newsome and Brents lost to Fox, and false rumors about those boots have been swirling ever since, such as the claim she broke Brents’ skull.
As Fox and others have pointed out, an orbital fracture is common in MMA.
The BBC’s apology comes weeks after their interviewer, Justin Web, responded to criticism of the program by insisting that he had “no idea” of Fox’s 2020 comments “and the producers didn’t either.” He added, “We need to tackle these issues fairly but not from the ‘everyone calm down’ perspective that fails to note who is violent and who is not.” Webb’s statement on Twitterthe tweet by Fair Play For Women and a sensational reaction by British feminist Helen Saxby were more than enough anti-trans fodder for a one-sided tabloid report by The Daily Mail on June 21.
Among its claims: “Miss Fox has since claimed to enjoy beating up women who oppose transgender rights, known derogatively as ‘Terfs’.”
Fox responses on Twitter the next day.
As for her statement about “enjoying smacking up” TERFs, she tweeted, “You bet! And why wouldn’t I when we both sign a contract to beat each other up? I suppose I should’ve been depressed about the prospect of doing my job.” She concluded the thread with an eyeroll emoji, and moved on.
On Saturday, Fox responded to the BBC’s apology in her interview with the Blade: “So, I’m ‘violent’ because I talked about hitting other women in MMA? What does that make my cis opponents or any other woman who fights?”
Noted out trans writer and author Aiden Comerford came to Fox’s defense, noting the hypocrisy of how the BBC stood by its “journalism” despite days of complaints about a controversial October 2021 article. A reporter interviewed cisgender lesbians who claimed trans women pressured them into having sex, and quoted an anti-trans activist who called for trans women, including Fox, to be “lynched.”
“It’s not like I’m Lilly Cade calling for the literal killing of trans women and interviewed on the BBC,” Fox told the Blade. “That should be focused on. Not an MMA fighter talking smack about what they legally do in MMA. It’s silly.” Comerford called it proof of “absolutely ridiculous bias.”
The BBC ultimately removed Cade’s comments but that article stands; Its other examples of transphobic coverage has led to protests and other complaints. Yet the net effect of this kind of reporting is that Fox and other trans people, as well as allies, are bombarded with hateful messages, most of which say something along the lines of, “You’re not a woman, you’re a man.”
There’s no denying, said Fox, the terrible toll of all that hate.
“Of course they get to me. It’s probably why I came off snarky in my original comment in the first place, which was a response to transphobic nonsense,” she said. “It does become annoying to be repeatedly called a man. I think it’s human for anyone to get upset about being called outside their gender.”
And these attacks are not limited to mean tweets. “They changed my voice,” Fox told me in another interview, back in May, about some nasty videos posted to YouTube. “They altered my voice to sound more deeper in order to make me sound like a man.”
And what if the BBC comes calling again?
“Given that the BBC is clearly biased and their representative said it was ‘a mistake’ to have me on there, I would certainly not talk to them again,” said Fox. “They are easily caved to the TERFs pressure likely because they cater to that transphobic demographic. After all, they are based on TERF island.”
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