Transgender woman sues Crossfit for not allowing her to compete against women

LOS GATOS, Calif. (KTVU/CNN) — Chloie Jonsson’s athletic career began about 20 years ago after she broke her pelvis in an accident and was unable to walk for six months.

“After that, just being able to appreciate walking, I just started becoming more athletic,” Jonsson said.

These days, the 34-year-old Los Gatos physical trainer is muscular and fit, thanks in large part to the popular CrossFit program which includes a mixture of weightlifting, aerobics and gymnastics.

“I love the style of training, just everyday it was different,” Jonsson said. “Every day I felt like I was giving my all, pushing to the very, very end and then just wanting to do it again.”

But now Jonsson is suing CrossFit Inc. for $2.5 million.

Jonsson underwent gender reassignment surgery in 2006 – and CrossFit won’t let her compete with other women in the CrossFit Games, which aim to find the world’s fittest men and women.

“One of my teammates sent an anonymous letter, kind of just to see what the answer was and maybe what protocol we’d have to follow, like if I’d have to supply documentation or anything like that,” said Jonsson. “I was pretty shocked that their answer was you had to register and compete as the gender you were born as.”

In a letter supplied by Jonsson’s lawyer, the general counsel for CrossFit writes “Chloie was born genetically – as a matter of fact – with an X and a Y chromosome and all of the anatomy of a male of the human race… [A] male competitor who has a sex reassignment procedure still has a genetic makeup that confers a physical and physiological advantage over women. We owe it to the competition and the whole pool of female athletes to exclude Chloie from the participating in the female division.”

Jonsson’s attorney said CrossFit is violating California law.

“She’s legally female, her birth certificate, her driver’s license, she’s been female for a long, long time,” said Waukeen McCoy. “And for them to say she has to compete in the men’s division, I think it’s horrifying.”

Derek Van Rheenen, the Director of UC Berkeley’s Athletics Study Center, said Jonsson has a very good case. He notes that a number of other major sports organizations have clear-cut guidelines about transgendered athletes.

“If someone has made this change, has undergone hormonal treatments for a year under the care of a physician, that they should be able to compete,” said Van Rheenen. “It seems that CrossFit, which is a fairly modern sport, is fairly archaic in their reading of the situation.”

Jonsson describes herself as a private person and said it was a huge step to come forward to challenge the CrossFit policy.

“It seemed like I needed to do it, not just for me but for other people that were out there,” Jonsson said.

The case is scheduled for its first court hearing in July in Santa Cruz. CrossFit did not respond to requests for comment Monday, but the letter by the company’s attorney notes that it may one day establish a category in which transgendered athletes can compete separately.

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