Ringside Physicians oppose transgender athletes competing in combat sports

Leading combat sports physicians org issues position paper'Numerous studies have proven...'Results of actual transgender MMA fightsTransgender boxer Pat Manuel wins first boutControversy around issueJoin…

By: Nate Wilcox | 2 weeks ago

Leading combat sports physicians org issues position paper

The Association of Ringside Physicians (ARP) issued a position paper on transgender competitors in combat sports on June 13 (via Combat Sports Law). The position boils down to “the ARP does not currently support transgender athlete competition against cisgender athletes in combat sports.” concluding that such bouts are “a mismatch based on genetic, anatomic, and physiologic differences and must be avoided.“

Ringside physician examines UFC fighter Tim Boetsch. Image has nothing to do with transgender competitors in combat sports.
IMAGO | USA TODAY by Gary A. Vasquez.

The full statement is below:

arp transgender 2

‘Numerous studies have proven…’

The opening paragraph of the position paper states: “The Association of Ringside Physicians (ARP) is committed to the concept of fair competition. It advocates for two equally skilled and matched athletes to keep bouts fair, competitive, entertaining, and, most importantly, safe for all combatants.

“Numerous studies have proven that transgender women may have a competitive athletic advantage against otherwise matched cisgender women. Likewise, transgender men may have a competitive disadvantage against cisgender men.

“These differences—both anatomic and physiologic–persist despite normalization of sex hormone levels and create disparities in competitive abilities that are not compatible with the spirit of fair competition. More importantly, allowing transgender athletes to compete against cisgender athletes in combat sports, which already involve significant risk of serious injury, unnecessarily raises the risk of injury due to these differences.

“Hence, the ARP does not currently support transgender athlete competition against cisgender athletes in combat sports.”

Results of actual transgender MMA fights

There is a very very small data set of actual bouts to look at.

Male-to-female transitioner Fallon Fox fought in MMA from 2012 to 2014, amassing a 5-1 record with three victories via KO or TKO and two via submission.

Watch Fox’s 39 second win over Ericka Newsome.

Alana McLaughlin, another male-to-female transitioner, is 1-0 in MMA with a 2021 submission victory over Celine provost at Combate Global.

McLaughlin spoke to Bloody Elbow recently and shared some of her experience.

“I think I really had high hopes when I got that first pro fight,” McLaughlin told Bloody Elbow. “And I thought there was going to be more to it. But I also think that the executives at Combate (Global) sort of underestimated the vitriol that was going to be coming my way.”

“So yeah, I don’t know, I guess I started getting the whole pie in the sky, thinking I was going to have a shot at something,” she said. “And now that seems further away. And like we pointed out, I’m 40. I wanted, really, my goal was just to have more fights than Fallon Fox did. But at this point, even that’s looking unlikely. I don’t know. It’s tough right now.”

Transgender boxer Pat Manuel wins first bout

There has been one transgender boxing bout in the US. Pat Manuel defeated Hugo Aguilar by unanimous decision at Fantasy Spring Casino in Indio, California in June of this year.

Manuel had competed in the London Olympic trials as a female before transitioning.

“Being the first known transgender case, the California State boxing commission was reluctant to allow him to fight.

“Manuel was only cleared to fight shortly after the International Olympic Committee in 2016 advised that female-to-male athletes can compete without any restriction.”

Controversy around issue

The issue has been a cultural hot button issue for over a decade now. UFC commentator Joe Rogan has been especially outspoken on the topic. His comments on Fallon Fox were quite negative.

“She calls herself a woman but… I tend to disagree,” Rogan said on his podcast in 2013. “She used to be a man but now she has had, she’s a transgender which is (the) official term that means you’ve gone through it, right? And she wants to be able to fight women in MMA. I say no f***ing way. I say if you had a dick at one point in time, you also have all the bone structure that comes with having a dick. You have bigger hands, you have bigger shoulder joints. You’re a f***ing man. That’s a man, OK? I don’t care if you don’t have a dick anymore.”

“She’s not really a she,” Rogan added. “She’s a transgender, post-op person.”

More recently UFC veteran Jake Shields has called for public executions of “anyone who helps a child transition? This would include doctors, therapists, teachers, guidance counsellors, etc.” 

“Things are being pushed to such an extreme that the cure is likely going to be just as extreme,” Shields added in a follow-up tweet. Both tweets have been deleted.

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About the author
Nate Wilcox
Nate Wilcox

Nate Wilcox is the founding editor of BloodyElbow.com. As such he has hired every editor and writer to work for the site. Wilcox’s writing for BE is known for its emphasis on MMA history, the evolution of fighting techniques and strong opinions. Wilcox developed the SBN MMA consensus rankings which were featured in USA Today from 2009 to 2011. Before founding BE, Wilcox was a political operative working for such figures as Senators John Kerry and Mark Warner and an early political blogger. He is the co-author of Netroots Rising, a history of the political blogosphere from 2003 to 2007. Wilcox also hosts the Let It Roll podcast on music history for the Pantheon Podcast Network.

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