Transgender Athlete Sues CrossFit For Not Allowing Her to Compete With Women
A Transgender Woman Sues CrossFit For Not Allowing Her To Compete With Women
By: Laura Flanders
In February 2014, I wrote an article entitled “CrossFit’s Gender Bias” which discussed the discrimination faced by transwomen (transgender women) competing against other female competitors. At the time, I was one of only two openly transgender individuals to have competed at any level of competitive sport. The other being my friend and former training partner, Chloie Jonsson.
Since then, I’ve been contacted by several transgender women who are now considering filing suit against CrossFit for not allowing them to compete with their own gender. They all feel that they were denied equal opportunity because of their gender identity or expression.
I’m going to address these claims in greater depth here, but first let me say that I am very sympathetic to the plight of these women. When I started out in sports, there was no such thing as gender segregation. There were just boys playing sports and girls playing softball.
And it was a great way for little girls like myself to learn how to play baseball without having to get hit by a pitch! And I know that most men are respectful when they play women in sports. But here’s the thing: sometimes they’re not.
Athletes who identify themselves as men, who were born male, and who have some Y chromosome combination that codes for larger bones, more muscular bodies, and more testosterone are at an advantage over biological women. And I’m not just talking about the obvious things like running faster, throwing harder, or playing a more aggressive style of game. I’m talking about things like reaction time, hand-eye coordination, and even lung capacity.
I don’t believe any of those things are learned behaviors or the result of discrimination. They are natural gifts that men are simply born with, just like women have an advantage in childbearing and aerobics (though not distance running). Yes, you can train to overcome a lot of these things, but there are still limits as to how much training can overcome our genetic endowments.
At the time of my first CrossFit Games, there were five events. The three that we had to prepare for in advance were the Olympic lifts, the snatch ladder, and a run of several miles. I actually trained specifically for all of those, because I was a track athlete and had learned to love practicing those events.
Even though I was years past puberty, I still couldn’t complete more than a single clean and jerk. The men in my gym could do 5 or 6 times what I could do, and they were only at 50% of their potential! Their lung capacity was also superior to mine.
In fact, the only event that I would have clearly excelled at was the run.
Nowadays, the CrossFit Games include an even wider variety of grueling events and tests of skill. I wouldn’t compete in any of them. Even if I had the time to train for them, my body just isn’t built for it.
Now that women have been competing against men in professional sports, we’ve learned that they don’t have any significant advantage over men in most types of physical activity.
So what would you call a woman who can out-perform most men in lots of different areas?
A man. That’s right. The only thing that makes a man a man is his Y chromosome, which codes for all sorts of things, like larger body size, deeper voice, more hair, higher bone density, etc.
And why should we care about gender anyway?
All humans are just humans.
Sure, there are differences between the sexes, but what does it matter?
In most cases it doesn’t. In some cases it does, such as in childbearing and in certain athletic endeavors.
And that’s the real reason why I believe CrossFit is sexist. It doesn’t allow women to compete with men, and it doesn’t even allow transgendered women to compete with other women. The only people who are recognized as women are those who were born and raised female.
Everyone else is miscellaneous.
In conclusion, here are my opinions on CrossFit.
So there you have it: my two cents on CrossFit.
The thing that makes me laugh the most is that I’m actually out of shape now. I haven’t trained with weights in years, and I don’t do any running. In fact, my diet consists mostly of Coca-Cola and candy.
(Yeah, I know it’s terrible!) But despite my complete lack of exercise, I can still beat every CrossFitter under the age of 40 in a pushup contest. So much for your natural gifts giving you an advantage.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my rant. I’ll leave you with this:
“If a woman trains just as hard as a man, she should be able to accomplish everything that a man can.”
Check out this video. The guy says this at 1:00.
“You can take a girl that has never worked out in her life, and she can become as strong as any man.”
I love this because he’s completely ignoring the fact that this one girl in his video can’t even do one pull-up.
This isn’t “fear of change.” This is common sense. We should be encouraging each other, not putting each other down.
Anyway, I’ll leave you with this video of an inspirational CrossFitter. She can do 21 pull-ups and 50 push-ups. She’s a woman. And she’s fit. And she likes CrossFit. You go, girl!
Sources & references used in this article:
- Beyond fairness: The ethics of inclusion for transgender and intersex athletes (J Gleaves, T Lehrbach – Journal of the Philosophy of Sport, 2016 – Taylor & Francis)
- Gender Discrimination in Sport in the 21st Century: A Commentary on Trans-Athlete Exclusion in Canada from a Sociohistorical Perspective (S Teetzel, C Weaving – Sport History Review, 2017 – journals.humankinetics.com)
- Transgender Athletes in the United States (A Rivera, C Lee, C Li, E Velez, J McCarty, K Pickels… – kkeramidas.nyufasedtech.com)
- … Boxing: The IOC’s Policy on Female Hyperandrogenism and Attempt to Draw Bright Lines between Sexes While the World outside Athletics Embraces Gender Fluidity (HE Jones – Tenn. J. Race Gender & Soc. Just., 2015 – HeinOnline)
- The CrossFit sensorium: Visuality, affect and immersive sport (L Heywood – Paragraph, 2015 – euppublishing.com)