A transgender woman is suing CrossFit for refusing to allow her to compete in a women's-only division of their annual fitness competition. 34-year-old Chloie Jonsson of Northern California was born a male but now identifies as female, but that hasn't changed the mind of the popular gym, who claims that scientifically Chloie would have an advantage over the other female athletes.
The transgender woman is suing CrossFit in Santa Cruz Superior Court for $2.5 million for discrimination, intentional infliction of emotional distress and unfair competition, according to the Associated Press. The Reebok CrossFit Games require all registrants to enter as the gender they were born with, but Jonsson and her lawyer, Waukeen McCoy, say that the effects of her masculinity and testosterone have been nullified since her gender reassignment surgery eight years ago.
However, CrossFit's attorney Dale Saran, posted a letter on an online discussion board refuting Jonsson's claims by pointing to basic biology.
"The fundamental, ineluctable fact is that a male competitor who has a sex reassignment procedure still has a genetic makeup that confers a physical advantage over women," Saran said in the October letter, which was addressed to McCoy. "That Chloie may have felt herself emotionally, and very conscientiously, to be a woman in her heart, and that she ultimately underwent the legal and other surgical procedures to carry that out, cannot change that reality."
"Our decision has nothing to do with 'ignorance' or being bigots— it has to do with a very real understanding of the human genome, of fundamental biology, that you are either intentionally ignoring or missed in high school," Saran continued, adding that Chloie also never provided medical documentation of her claims.
Jonsson and McCoy based the lawsuit on the fact that the International Olympic Committee allows male-to-female or female-to-male athletes to compete as long as they have had gender reassignment surgery and have been taking hormones for at least two years.
The Reebok CrossFit games require athletes to participate in strenuous exercises including core conditioning, cardio, and extreme weight lifting. Before the competition, Jonsson's status as a transgender woman was private, but she feels she was "forced" to reveal her surgery.
"If I am going to be forced to out myself, I want it to be for the good for all transgendered people and athletes— not because of a company's discriminatory policies," Jonsson stated.
CrossFit has offered to create a new category for transgender athletes if enough sign up.