Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighting is a brutal sport. There are both men and women who compete, but not against each other. MMA competitors are powerful athletes who spend years training their bodies in order to compete. When they have an upcoming match, they spend months in extremely high intensity training, working on strength, balance, speed, technique and footwork. When an MMA fighter enters the ring, they are faced with an intense, powerful, trained and dangerous opponent who wants to destroy them. If a fighter misses his or her mark and gets off balance or lowers a glove, the opponent can land a crushing blow with fist, foot or knee. This often causees the brain on the receiving end of the blow to slosh around inside the skull, likely knocking the fighter unconscious as he or she drops to the floor. The crowds love the brutality and the sport has a large following. I’m not in that crowd. But Fallon Fox has caught my attention for reasons which I’ll explain below.
Fallon Fox is the person on the right in the above photo. Fallon Fox‘s MMA career began in 2011. In May, 2012, Fox’s first professional MMA win was over Elisha Helsper. The match lasted 2 minutes before it was ruled a technical knock out due to a debilitating injury to Helsper’s arm. Fox’s next match only lasted 39 seconds before Fox landed a powerful knee to Ericka Newsome’s chin, dropping Newsome to the matt. That was a true knock out. After the Newsome match, Fox was likely on the trajectory of a rising star in women’s MMA, but one thing Elisha Helsper and Ericka Newsome did not know until after they lost to Fox, was that Fox is actually a man. In fact, it appears that few people knew that Fox was actually born a man named Boyd Burton, who had once been married and had fathered a child. Fox’s (Burton’s) sparring and training partner (Mary) did not even know Fox was born male.
Boyd Burton had traveled to Thailand in 2006, to undergo surgery to change his physical appearance at the age of 31. He has been on hormone treatment for the last 10 years as well.
After the Newsome match, a reporter called Burton to request an interview. Burton was elated to oblige until the reporter hinted that he knew about Burton’s past. Burton hung up and called Sports Illustrated instead, in a savvy decision to give Sports Illustrated an exclusive story as the first transgendered MMA fighter.
Burton’s professional MMA record is now 5-1. He lost to Ashlee Evans-Smith before defeating Heather Bassett and Tamikka Brents. He blames his Evans-Smith loss on the emotional turmoil he was experiencing after coming out of the closet. But it seems that he quickly rebounded, given the punishment he leveled on his next two opponents. Breents ended up with a concussion, a broken orbital bone and required 7 staples in her scalp. In a June 9, 2015 article by Geoffrey Grider, Brents said:
“I’ve fought a lot of women and have never felt the strength that I felt in a fight as I did that night. I can’t answer whether it’s because [he] was born a man or not, because I’m not a doctor. I can only say, I’ve never felt so overpowered ever in my life, and I am an abnormally strong female in my own right.”
Burton had a couple of amateur bouts before turning pro. Alyssa Vasquez was one of Burton’s amatuer opponents. Vasquez tried to contact Burton (who she thought to be Fox) before their match, but Burton would not respond. Vasquez did not know of Burton’s genetic history prior to their match and now says that she would not have agreed to fight Burton had she known he was actually a man. Burton defeated Vasquez in that amateur match and Vasquez says “I have fought some amazing women in the cage, but I can honestly say she was the fastest and strongest fighter I’ve ever faced.” I guess Vasquez now knows why.
As you can imagine, I don’t like what I have seen here. Burton was born a man and his sex change does not make him a woman. He lived as a male for over 30 years and has done nothing but change his physical appearance to the point where he is now neither fully male nor is he female. The fact that he now beats women on a regular basis, is not something our society should allow, much less applaud.
However, there is the other extreme. Many people have attacked Burton in very disrespectful and disturbing ways. While women have primarily pointed out that Burton is not really a woman and likely has a physical advantage over his opponents, some men who are either MMA commentators or fans, have gone overboard in their verbal assault on Burton.
Name calling, derogatory comments, profanity and slurs, do nothing to help our society see this for what it is. We should be focused on getting help for people who are confused about their sexual identity. Whether it is Jenner, Boyd Burton or the kid in your local high school classroom, they need help, not criticism and disrespect. When you look at the lives of people like Bruce Jenner and Boyd Burton, you see a lot of destructive behavior. For instance, both had marriages and children before they decided to alter their physical appearance. Now that they have turned their backs on their family, our society wants to tell them that it is all just fine and dandy. But broken marriages and confused children are anything but fine and dandy, they are actually in very painful and confusing situations.
American society has long turned a blind eye to “throw away” marriages. As a result, single-parent homes account for nearly ½ of all households for American youth. So what is the big deal if Episcopalian bishop, Eugene Robinson leaves his wife and daughters to marry a man or if Boyd Burton leaves his wife and daughter to get a sex change? Our society has a problem pointing to the hypocrisy of Robinson and Burton because we have not called foul on heterosexual divorce. In fact, back in the early 70’s, we made divorce even easier, not more difficult by passing no-fault divorce laws in almost every state in the U.S.
We are all imperfect. The problem is: We have the impression that we cannot question anyone’s behavior or choices, because we have our flaws as well. We all sit around with the realization that we live in glass houses. We know that our family member, friend or neighbor may see our suggestion as condemnation and retaliate against us in some way. So we remain silent for fear that a stone will be pitched at our house. This is why many men fail to teach their sons and daughters about the danger and destruction of pornography. This is why many women fail to teach their daughters the danger and destruction of artificial contraception. This is why many of us ignore the destructive behaviors and decisions of those around us. We all have skeletons in our closet, and we selfishly wish to keep them in the closet. Who am I to judge?
The answer is we are to judge. But we cannot judge a person’s heart. All we can judge are behaviors, appearances and choices. And by judging, I absolutely do not mean to condemn. Only God can condemn a person. If we love our neighbor, we will be observant of those around us and when we see them struggling to make good decisions or when we see them making bad decisions, we have an obligation, out of love, to speak up. They may see us as hateful, judgmental and perceive it as condemnation, but if we are truly doing our best to help them avoid behavior and decisions that are detrimental to their well-being, we are acting out of love. This takes our willingness to suffer and it takes our willingness to risk temporary or permanent persecution by those we wish to help. If you are a Christian, the ultimate destruction is damnation. Everything you do is centered around your own salvation and the salvation of your neighbor. As a Christian, you are called to sacrifice everything you have, in order to help save your neighbor’s soul. And by neighbor, I include your spouse, child, sibling, parent, etc…
But the Christian concept of love is lost on many people, including Boyd Burton. Burton says he is an atheist who does not believe in sin (Source: Fox/Lane Interview at Skepticon, November, 2015). This isnt’ surprising. How could he believe in God or sin and live the life he lives?
When a person attempts to overrule God, the person has to rationalize everything and elevate his or her own personal desires and goals above all else. Sin has to go out the door because you have to throw God out of your life as well. For a person like Fallon Fox, God is dead, God has died or God never existed in the first place, which is one of the basic requirements for speaking at a Skepticon conference.
Because Burton does not believe in God, there is no sin and without sin, it was not such a big deal to lie about the fact that he is actually a man who gets his thrills by savagely beating women as people cheer you on. Burton is very lucky that MMA happens to have a lot of women who are very competitive and will not back down from fighting him, even though he is a man. Several MMA fighters have shown better sense, but he’ll still have opponents as long as the regulatory committee’s allow it.
For now, it does not look like Burton has any scheduled fights coming up. He appears to be focusing more on the public relations effort for the LGBT lifestyle. Because much of the media lives in very fragile glass housing, they ignore the fact that Burton threw his marriage and family away. They ignore the fact that he beat up 4 or more women who did not have any way of knowing he was actually a man. And they ignore the fact that Burton did not “come out” until he learned that an investigative reporter was about to tell the world that he was really a man.
There is also a huge effort, on Burton’s part and on the part of his supporters, to claim that he does not have an advantage against his female MMA opponents. In his Skepticon Q&A, Burton claimed that his testosterone level is lower than all the other women at the conference and lower than his female opponents in the MMA matches. There have been articles, blogs and commentaries that also claim that Burton does not have a physical advantage due to the fact that he was born male. But the actual medical consensus is not as favorable to Burton’s claims.
Burton and his supporters talk about testosterone as though it is one hormone with one impact and one use within the human body. But that is an inaccurate generalization at best and highly misleading at worst. Both males and females have testosterone in our bodies. The levels are always changing and testosterone impacts people differently depending on their sex. For a man who has had hormone therapy and surgery to assume the physical appearance of a woman, the most important number is the level of “free testosterone” in his blood. Free testosterone impacts his sexual stamina, increased muscle growth, rapid fat loss, deeper voice, aggressive behavior, energy, confidence and motivation.
So for Boyd Burton, we should not be interested in the total amount of testosterone in his blood, we should focus on the amount of free testosterone in his blood. Here is the key: Burton’s free testosterone is probably higher than his MMA opponents and if it is higher, he has a distinct physical advantage because of the traits listed in the previous paragraph. I read a 2004 Study, Sexual and Physical Health After Sex Reassignment Surgery, published in Archives of Sexual Behavior, Vol. 34, No. 6, December 2005, pp. 679–690 ( C 2005) DOI: 10.1007/s10508-005-7926-5. In that study researchers found that nearly 70% of men who go through gender reassignment surgery cannot reduce their free testosterone levels as low as the average female. These men have higher free testosterone levels, which means they are more likely to have more sexual stamina, increased muscle growth, rapid fat loss, deeper voice, aggressive behavior, energy, confidence and motivation. This is a significant advantage in MMA training and competition.
Burton also spends a lot of time attempting to discredit claims that he has an advantage due to other male physical traits, such as muscle mass, bone density and male imprinting on his brain. Dr. Ramona Krutzikhas spoken to these issues in a pretty persuasive way and I’ll just say that it sounds like Burton has a lot of physical advantages.
Many states, including Nebraska, are putting high school students at risk of harm all in the familiar name of political correctness. The Nebraska State Athletic Association, the body that governs high school athletics in the state of Nebraska, recently passed a new policy with allows high school students to play on a team that fits with their gender identity. The overwhelming majority of schools and athletic directors in Nebraka actually voted against this action, but a day later, the 7 member board of the NSAA, disregarded the opinion of hundreds of these people as well as the majority of Nebraskans and approved the policy anyway. Therefore, boys can play girls teams and girls can play on boys teams in Nebraska high school athletics. Unfortunately, there is no science or medicine which shows this is, safe, fair or a good idea. All we have are examples like Boyd Burton, Jenner and a hyper-sensitive media to push an agenda which disregards the best interests of others.
I just wish our society would stop the self-deception and stop trying to make believe that men can become women and women can become men. If we continue down this path, Boyd Burton or someone following his lead, will kill or seriously and permanently injure someone. If that happens, the regulatory board that sanctions the fight, licenses and monitors the competitors and makes the money off of the event, should be charged and convicted for said murder or assault and held liable for all financial losses. It should not have to come to that, but unfortunately, the only thing that will stop this insanity is likely lawsuit after lawsuit.