Eddie Goldman is the host and producer of the No Holds Barred international podcast and the publisher of the No Holds Barred blog.

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Friday, April 19, 2013

No Holds Barred: Alaina Hardie on Transsexual Athletes, Grappling, and Robots 

On this edition of No Holds Barred, host Eddie Goldman speaks with grappler Alaina Hardie.

Based in Toronto, Canada, and a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Alaina Hardie has been well-known for competing in numerous grappling and BJJ events in North America. Although a knee injury will likely prevent her from competing in these tournaments again, she continues to train and attend numerous events.

She is also friends with Fallon Fox, the female transsexual MMA fighter who has recently been the center of much controversy.

Alaina took to her Facebook page to post in support of Fallon Fox, and then, along with a recent photo of the two of them, wrote: "My friend Fallon Fox has been in the news recently because she came out as a trans MMA fighter. I have been very vocally supportive, and have tried to help spread good information. I have spent a long time investigating the issue. I feel, deep down, that it is fair for Fallon to fight. The reality is that trans athletes are everywhere. In fact, you know one personally: me."

Although those close to her and some others knew about it, this was the public coming out by Alaina Hardie as a transsexual woman.

We spoke to Alaina Hardie by Skype Wednesday about the status of transsexual athletes and her own situation.

"I am, like Fallon, a transsexual athlete," she said in this interview. "I met Fallon when we both did the ADCC Trials in 2009. And at the time I had no idea she was transsexual, and she had no idea I was, either. I just thought she was like every other non-trans female grappler out there."

After adding each other on Facebook, she and Fallon didn't stay in touch that much, until she saw the news in March of this year that Fallon had come out.

"Immediately I e-mailed her and was like, 'Look, girl, I totally got your back. I'm also a trans athlete.' And we had a little, brief conversation about it at that point. But I became a very outspoken advocate."

Our discussion also examined some of the scientific issues involving transsexual athletes, as Alaina describes herself as a "science nerd". She mentioned the positive support she has received since coming out as a trans athlete from so many people in the jiu-jitsu and grappling communities, how there is no scientific evidence that transsexual athletes have unfair advantages over other athletes, why if someone came up with the money for a long-term study of trans athletes "I would run it myself", the neurological differences between those who desire to become transsexuals and those who do not, her brief experience as a transsexual amateur boxer in Ontario, her experience coming out on Facebook, her work with robotics and why "robots are awesome", her support of the citizen science movement, and much more.

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