How CrossFit Has Been Discriminating Against the Transgender Community
Chloie Jonsson wanted what a lot of us want: a chance to show the world what we’re made of. When she decided to compete in the CrossFit strength competition, which is known to crown both men and women with the title of “The Fittest on Earth”, she was turned down.
Why? Well – even though Chloie identifies as a woman, the fact that she’s transgendered made her ineligible to compete amongst the other tough California ladies who had signed up for the competition. If she wanted to compete with the guys, she could go right ahead – but what kind of message does that send out to those who are struggling with their gender identity – or those whose genders differ from their birth sex?
Jonsson underwent gender reassignment surgery in 2006, but unfortunately, that’s not enough for the team at CrossFit who feel as if her sex at birth would have given her an unfair advantage over the other contestants. Chloie, who works professionally as a personal trainer, filed a $2.5 million lawsuit against the company for alleged discriminatory practices.
“Their position never changed: If you were born with a penis, you have to compete as a man,” said Waukeen McCoy, the San Francisco attorney who represents Jonsson. “But California law is very clear that you cannot discriminate on the basis of gender identity.”
Chloie sees herself as a private person, so the media attention isn’t something she necessarily wanted – but she thought it was necessary, in order to stand up for herself and other transgendered individuals who might not feel like their voice is strong enough to be heard.
“I don’t want to be the face of anything, even though that’s the way it seems right now for the transgender community,” she said to Mark Emmons of Mercury News. “This has been a huge shock to my system because the reality is many do have negative feelings about people like me… So for 18 years, I’ve had to shield myself from that. But now I’m realizing there’s no more shield.”
Even worse, Chloie – who was honestly only looking for a chance to compete privately in the division she felt like she belonged in – recently became a topic of discussion on The Wendy Williams Show, where Wendy took her story to a panel and agreed with the opinions of CrossFit in kind of a shameful and offensive manner.
“This is an unfair advantage,” Wendy claimed. “You can take away female parts or male parts or whatever … it’s like Chaz Bono! You know Chaz is a man now, but I bet she [sic] still fights like a girl like the rest of us and she’s [sic] not as strong as a man who was born a man.” (I don’t know about you, but I’ve got a feeling that Chaz won’t be rushing to make appearances on Wendy’s show after that statement.)
Wendy later apologized through Twitter, and promised to better educate herself on the process that a transgendered individual has to endure. For example – after her surgery and years of hormone therapy, her testosterone levels have gone down significantly. Plus, since every woman is different, you can bet that other competing women don’t have equal amounts of testosterone, estrogen, and other hormones that “might” give them a boost in the competition. Why should Chloie be any different?
Even if Chloie doesn’t win her lawsuit, hopefully her case raises a lot of awareness on the issue, and hopefully CrossFit will realize that even the International Olympic Committee has specific qualifications for their transgendered athletes – qualifications that would definitely let Chloie compete without question.