UPDATED on August 5:
Since I wrote this post, there have been pieces about Rousey’s transphobia that draw an even clearer picture of what I failed to cover and why that is a problem:
- When Role Models Become Problematic: Ronda Rousey and Transmisogyny at The Mary Sue
- How Ronda Rousey broke the UFC’s brand at Fusion
ORIGINAL POST on July 29:
Today at Bleacher Report, I have a long profile of mixed martial arts fighter Ronda Rousey. The piece is not critical of Rousey except in one part where I wrote about her trash talking and mention her transphobic comments about MMA trans fighter Fallon Fox. I don’t do anything with the comments beyond mentioning them and labeling them.
This was a failure on my part. There were others.
While highlighting her role as a woman in a male-dominated sport, I massively underplayed that she polices trans women’s womanhood. I should not have done that.
I should have done more, better research to understand the extent to which Rousey’s words have hurt people; I did not. I should have asked Rousey directly about the comments when I interviewed her; I did not.
I am sorry.
What Rousey has said about Fox is abhorrent. It is harmful. Transphobic language that others and dehumanizes trans people in a world where trans people are murdered for simply existing is not a small thing.
Bleacher Report is not going to pull the piece. They were willing to consider a short addendum to the piece but I chose this avenue as it allowed me to say exactly what I wanted in my own voice and immediately (there are levels of people at BR and I didn’t want bureaucracy to delay this).
If you want to know more about trans athletes, the transphobia they face, and the impact (sometimes tragic) of that, I suggest this piece.
I will be donating my paycheck for the piece to the Trans Justice Funding Project.
I will do better moving forward. I appreciate criticism of my work and I appreciate the people who brought up the criticism of this piece today.