Beginning in 2019, transgender CrossFit athletes will be permitted to choose whether they compete as men or as women in the annual CrossFit Games.
This shift represents a significant change in CrossFit’s policies. Since the competition’s inception in 2007, athletes have been required to register as either male or female, depending upon their actual biological sex. But CrossFit’s recent decision will change all of that.
According to the LGBTQ website them, CrossFit CEO and co-founder Greg Glassman announced the policy change last Friday. He was speaking at an LGBTQ-themed event titled “Big Gay Happy Hour,” designed to kick off the Reebok 2018 CrossFit Games being held in Madison, Wisconsin.
“In the 2019 CrossFit competitive season, starting with the Open, transgender athletes are welcome to participate in the division with which they identify," Glassman said. "This is the right thing to do. CrossFit believes in the potential, capacity, and dignity of every athlete. We are proud of our LGBT community, including our transgender athletes, and we want you here with us.”
This is not the first time CrossFit has faced controversy over the subject of transgender athletes.
BuzzFeed News reports that in 2014, personal trainer Chloie Jönsson sued CrossFit for $2.5 million in damages, for preventing him from competing as a woman. Jönsson is biologically male, but has allegedly identified as a woman since his teen years. CrossFit’s position at the time (as stated in a letter from the company’s lawyer to Jönsson’s attorney) was that, “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.”
The lawsuit was settled one year letter.
Then this past June, CrossFit spokesman Russell Berger was fired for tweeting that participating in gay pride celebrations is a “sin.”
The tweet was intended to be in support of an Indiana CrossFit gym, which had cancelled a workout event in honor of Pride Month. The Christian-owned gym was eventually shut down, when club staffers and members protested the owner’s conscience-based decision.
Glassman had strong words for Berger at the time.
“He needs to take a big dose of ‘shut the f--- up' and hide out for awhile. It’s sad,” Glassman said. “We do so much good work with such pure hearts — to have some zealot in his off-time do something this stupid, we’re all upset. The whole company is upset. This changes his standing with us. What that looks like, I don’t know. It’s so unfortunate.”
The stated purpose of the annual CrossFit Games is to determine who is the “fittest on earth.” The event--a “grueling” combination of aerobics, weights, and gymnastics--is a culmination of a number of similar competitions held throughout the year. Top athletes can potentially earn up to $300,000 in prize money.
It remains yet unknown whether CrossFit will require transgender athletes to have had “sex reassignment” surgery, or meet hormone thresholds, in order to compete in a particular division.