CrossFit Will Allow Transgender Athletes to Compete Starting During 2019 Games Season

CrossFit’s CEO and founder Greg Glassman has announced that transgender athletes will be allowed to compete in the 2019 CrossFit Games season.

As reported by Them, Glassman made the announcement at an event held in Madison this Friday by LGBTQ+ CrossFit group OUTWOD, to whom Glassman also presented a $10,000 check from the CrossFit Foundation. He said,

In the 2019 CrossFit competitive season, starting with the Open, transgender athletes are welcome to participate in the division with which they identify. 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.

He steps up to the microphone at the 3:50 mark in the video below.

CrossFit has been criticized by LGBTQ+ organizations in the past for not allowing transgender athletes to compete in the division of their identity, with GLAAD launching a petition a few years ago to change the policy in response to a 2014 incident regarding Chloie Jonsson. A transgender personal trainer based in California, Jonsson was denied the right to compete as a woman in that year’s CrossFit Games season. She sued, charging CrossFit with discrimination, intentional infliction of emotional distress and unfair competition.

In a letter that her lawyer shared with CNN, one of HQ’s lawyers was quoted as saying,

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.

The case was settled out of court.

Many other sporting bodies, including the International Olympic Committee, have instituted guidelines that do allow trans athletes to compete, sometimes requiring the competitor to have undergone sex reassignment surgery or to have been taking hormones for a certain period of time.

[Learn more: What it’s like competing in powerlifting as a transgender man.]

The announcement comes two months after the departure of CrossFit’s “Chief Knowledge Officer” Russell Berger, who posted a string of tweets this June in which he said that “celebrating ‘pride’ is a sin” and that “the intolerance of the LGBTQ ideology toward any alternative views is mind-blowing.” This was in response to an incident in the Indianapolis area where a box’s owners canceled an OUTWOD-sponsored Pride event because they felt the event did not “value health and wellness.”

Glassman responded by firing Berger and publicly saying he should “take a big dose of ‘shut the fuck up,'” adding that he (Glassman) was “crazy proud of the gay community in CrossFit.”

Judging by the outpouring of support reported by Them from LGBTQ+ CrossFit athletes around the country, this latest move to legitimize transgender athletes is already having a big impact on the organization’s relationship with the community.

Featured image via @chlojonsson on Instagram.