Transgender Woman Sues CrossFit After Being Denied Access to Competition

Written by Zack Ford

The popular strength conditioning program CrossFit has refused to allow transgender individuals to compete in the CrossFit Games on the team with which they identify. One California woman is now suing the exercise program for discriminating against her based on her gender identity.

In 2013, Chloie Johnson sought to perform in the CrossFit Games, which yield a prize of $275,000 to the man and woman who place first, with lesser cash prizes for the rest of the top 10. An anonymous individual outed Johnson as transgender, which prompted CrossFit to assert that individuals have to compete based on the sex of their birth. In a letter obtained by TMZ, CrossFit argued that trans women would have an advantage over other women — taking umbrage at the suggestion that the decision was narrow-minded:

We have simply ruled that based upon [Chloie] being born as a male, she will need to compete in the Men’s Division… The fundamental, ineluctable fact is that a male competitor who has a sex reassignment procedure still has a genetic makeup that confers a physical and physiological advantage over women. [...]

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.

Research has suggested that trans individuals do not have any clear advantage in athletic competition. That’s because the supposed advantage stems not directly from genetic makeup, but from testosterone levels, which would dissipate after about one year of estrogen therapy. That is why even the Olympics adopted a policy 10 years ago setting a standard — albeit a high one — for how trans athletes can qualify for the team they identify with:

  • They must have had gender reassignment surgery.
  • They must have legal recognition of their assigned gender.
  • They must have at least two years of hormone therapy.

Johnson underwent surgery in 2006 and all of her government documents, including her birth certificate, identify her as a woman. In a press release, Johnson said she didn’t want her outing to have been in vain: “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.”

This post originally appeared on ThinkProgress

Photo Credit: Chloie Johnson


Kalinka Poprawski

I wish all the best to Chloe. I think they should be allowed to compete. I can understand to a certain "grey area" degree of the how the human body is formed as a male in comparison to a female body. They should have that athlete compete in the sex gender they are suited and comfortable with, regardless on how they look outside. At least give her the chance she can show to compete... who knows Chloe and others can show off and win. All the best of luck.. I guess to some people ignorance is bliss.

Marc Horton
marcus Horton3 years ago

i sure hope cloie sues the pants off cross-fit,they are being stupid and ignorant,go cloie!

Susan T.
Susan T3 years ago

Are we not all human beings? I am so confused about this.
why is this being made into a huge issue? idk

I am so sick of this bs

Jayna Sheats
Jayna Sheats3 years ago

OK, a line was just crossed, and while this topic has been beaten to death, I am going to flog the dead horse. You can call me a crotchety and biased old lady, no problem, but "ignorant"? No.

On the first page of hits on the search engine of your choice, you should uncover the following information (no links, do your own homework, Freddy):

"The Stockholm Consensus" (IOC Medical Commission, 2004): The Stockholm Consensus has three main requirements for transsexual athletes to be recognised in their acquired gender and is widely used by most international sporting bodies: gender reassignment surgery; legal recognition of their assigned gender by the appropriate official authorities; and at least two years of hormone therapy. [Not ten, two. Read it yourself.]

In the UK, male-to-female and female-to-male transsexuals who did not undergo the surgery prior to puberty must prove that the Gender Recognition Panel recognises their acquired gender.

Soccer Tasmanian and the Football Federation of Australia have confirmed that a MTF transsexual is entitled to play in their league pursuant to the IOC rules (of 2004).

MTF transsexuals with surgery may participate as women in the Women’s Long Drivers of America (LDA) competition.

This is getting boring. If you want to call someone ignorant you should maybe not ignore the facts that are available at a touch of about twenty keystrokes on your computer.

Nils Anders Lunde
PlsNoMessage se3 years ago


pam w.
pam w3 years ago

Roger H wrote "Can you not get it through your heads that your argument boils down to sheer PREJUDICE no matter how you try to disguise it with what, in any case, are specious arguments that have no validity?"

I wish people like Susan T and the ever-reliably contrary Freddy would pay attnetion to that statement.

Kevin Brown
Kevin Brown3 years ago

The Olympic standard sounds pretty through to me. Why not use it?

Sarah MacDonald
Sarah MacDonald3 years ago

Oh, and Jayna S? I am so on your side.

Sarah MacDonald
Sarah MacDonald3 years ago

Freddy R, first off, don't call me darling. I'm not your darling much to the relief of both of us.

Second, yes, a decade is ten years. And before being accepted for surgery, Chloie had to live as a woman and receive hormone therapy for well over two years. That means she has been living as a woman for more than a decade. I did not say she had surgery a decade ago, but that she has been living as a woman for more than a decade. And the IOC altered the rules to allow trans athletes to compete in 2008. Under those rules, Chloie would have been eligible - had she attempted to and qualified in her sport - to compete in any Olympics since then. Nowhere in the rules are trans athletes required to wait until ten years after they finish surgical transition to compete.

Roger H, I, too, appreciate your thoughtful and well-informed comments on this subject.

Roger Hawcroft
Roger Hawcroft3 years ago

from below:

And to stick with sporting confusion, for a moment, let's remember that the rhetoric tells us that sport is character building and that it's *not* about winning but about "playing the game", "doing your best" and "having a go." Our materialism has queered that notion so that now it is largely not the case. Today, for many, it is "win at any cost" and I'd suggest that whoever outed Chloe more likely had that in mind than any "real" understanding or perhaps even objection to her gender.

Indeed, if she had not been outed (and how many others have not) and had competed, probably nothing more would have been heard of her in a hyped way such as has happened. Homosexual males used to be ridiculed as not being "men" and would be "culled" from the armed forces if their sexuality became known. Politicians and celebrities would be disgraced and almost anyone with such sexuality would be derided and suffer abuse from "puffter bashers." Some of it still happens but fortunately, most of us know and act better. Even the military has come to realise that sexuality has no bearing on how well a soldier can perform his or her duties.

So, if there is any ignorance here, I'd suggest that it is yours, not that of Jayne S. Think again, mate but take your prejudice cap off, first.