This is What It Means to Congratulate Pat Miletich
Pat Miletich, the first UFC welterweight champion, was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame on July 6, 2014.
Miletich is an outspoken man. He says what he thinks fearlessly, without regard to how stupid it it is or how much of an asshole he sounds like. His privilege and sense of entitlement to do so, however, are apparently well-founded, as he has seen no real repercussions for any of it. But if he wants to have a personal political belief system comprised of delusional conspiracy theories grounded in factual inaccuracies, that’s up to him. As dumb and as backwards as it is, not even I would argue Pat Miletich shouldn’t be in the Hall of Fame because of his personal belief system, where he believes things like:
However, this changes when your inductee goes on a misinformed, bigoted rant against a member of a minority group and the rant is specifically about that aspect of her identity. Pat Miletich did this of his own volition in March of 2013. We’ve used the example before: if he’d instead been spouting racist bullshit, the objection would be unilateral and instantaneous–easily imperiling his chances for induction, especially absent any type of apology. But, since transphobia is largely more accepted, particularly in bro-dominated arenas like MMA, the following isn’t even a blip on the radar:
I think if you have a Y chromosome in your body, you’re a man, no matter what hardware you have surgically removed, changed or done whatever. You’re still a man. I talked to a lot of female fighters and they think it’s bullshit. I agree with them. There’s nothing that changes the fact that Fallon Fox was born a man. So what if he lopped off his junk. I mean hey, you’re still a man [laughs]. Fallon’s confusion does not transfer over to my confusion. He still has a Y chromosome.
I don’t have anything against anybody that’s transgender, gay, or whatever. Whatever they do to their own body is their decision. That’s just the way it is, and I don’t have a problem with that. You can’t then expect to cross over and beat the shit out of girls. A transgender league might be a great idea. Maybe Dana White would be interested in that. Sell some tickets, right [laughs]?
In case it’s not obvious, here’s a partial list of the harmful and/or inaccurate things wrong in that brief quote: Miletich calls Fox a man. Miletich uses masculine pronouns. Miletich makes claims about transition with no authority to do so and without citing sources. Miletich speaks for Fox and says she is confused. Miletich lumps transgender people and gay people into the same group.
This is complete bullshit. But Miletich suffered no real consequences for blithely championing dangerous fallacies. And not only that, but he doesn’t seem to have apologized for it. There’s certainly no public apology to be found, and he confirmed as much on Twitter:
I guess you can commend Pat for being honest, if evasive?
So here’s what Pat Miletich getting into the Hall of Fame says, and here’s what it means when one congratulates Pat Miletich on getting into the Hall of Fame:
1) as long as you’re famous enough and respected in your industry, you can say just about whatever you want, including dehumanizing transphobic rhetoric, without being held accountable in any significant way.
2) your contributions to your industry are of greater value than the dignity and humanity of an oppressed group.
3) your contributions to your industry are of greater value than the dignity and humanity of a single person.
4) you can preach malicious fallacies that actively hurt an oppressed group, and still receive recognition in the highest echelons of the biggest, most important, most powerful company in your industry.
5) MMA > the transgender population’s dignity, humanity, fight for equality, and right to be treated with respect in the public arena.
6) Pat Miletich literally does not care enough about Fallon Fox’s well-being and the fact that he hurt her to apologize – not for what he thinks, and not even for hurting her, and at no personal cost – and that’s cool, even though transgender people are already one of the most at-risk populations. Staying true to his ideology is more important.
Being inducted into the Hall of Fame isn’t being sainted. It’s not recognition of one’s upstanding morality/philanthropy/selflessness. However, when the UFC inducts someone like Pat Miletich, they make it clear that within their company, you can spout your transphobic bigotry without any expectation of accountability. The UFC is okay with transphobia.
Maybe they haven’t explicitly said as much publicly, but the message is unmistakable. And coming from the biggest, most influential MMA promotion in the world, it’s an absolute disappointment.
You can follow Sydnie Jones on Twitter @syd1138