An opinion columnist for the LGBTQ sports media outlet Outsports called transgender mixed martial arts fighter Fallon Fox the "bravest athlete in history" in a recent article. Fox is a biological male who fights women.
Fox came out as transgender in 2013 and was predictably criticized for attempting to compete in violent physical combat with women as a biological male who only identifies as a woman.
The Outsports writer, Cyd Zeigler, credited Fox for persevering through the harsh criticism and continuing to pursue a fighting career.
In 2013, when Fallon Fox came out publicly as trans in professional mixed martial arts, she was the target of a torrent of hatred I have literally never seen targeting an LGBTQ athlete. While certainly some writers took thoughtful approaches to understanding this emerging dynamic of trans athletes in women's sports, still many more, like Joe Rogan, were vicious for the sake of being vicious.
Yet Fox stood strong and continued to push for, and earn, her right to compete. Except for one fateful match, she also won every time she stepped into the professional ring.
One of the women Fox defeated in a fight, Tamikka Brents, said afterward that there was a noticeable difference between fighting Fox and fighting a woman. Brents suffered a concussion and suffered several broken orbital bones during the loss.
"I've fought a lot of women and have never felt the strength that I felt in a fight as I did that night," Brents said.
Fox has undergone both hormone replacement therapy and gender transition surgery. Fox said because he no longer has testicles, he has lower testosterone than most women he fights, putting him at a disadvantage.
Rogan is facing backlash for his 2013 stance on Fox, especially in light of his sort-of endorsement of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) for the Democratic presidential nomination.
"She calls herself a woman but I tend to disagree," Rogan said in 2013. "And 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 d**k at one point in time, you also have all the bone structure that comes with having a d**k," Rogan continued. "You have bigger hands, you have bigger shoulder joints. You're a f***ing man. That's a man, OK? You can't have... that's... I don't care if you don't have a d**k any more."