Inclusivity Wins: Starting in 2019, Trans Crossfitters Can Compete in the Category for the Gender They Identify As

Photo: Getty Images/ Hinterhaus Productions

It's well known that part of CrossFit's massive appeal is its community, which is currently about 4 million people strong—or equivalent to the entire population of Los Angeles. Unfortunately though, despite its familial focus, the fitness organization failed to celebrate a certain segment of the general population (at least, in official policy) prior to this weekend: the trans* community.

However, amid the 2018 CrossFit Games, the organization took steps to include these athletes: CEO and founder Greg Glassman announced that transgender CrossFitters can compete in the 2019 season in whichever gender category they identify (as opposed to being forced to either not compete at all or compete as the sex assigned to them at birth). "This is the right thing to do. The most important thing that happens in a CrossFit box isn’t the resolution of who is the fittest. It’s the love, it’s the health, it’s the community. That’s what matters,” says Glassman.

Last night, we hosted @crossfit Founder, Greg Glassman as he announced inclusion of the transgender community in the 2019 @crossfitgames season. This huge milestone brings our community one giant step closer to acceptance in sport and in life. . @outwod has always been a community of acceptance and inclusion and now that message is being spread far and wide in one of the greatest sports that we all know and love. . Nothing is ever without a fight and an army. @chlojonsson started this climb over 4 years ago and we have been honored to share her story and educate those around us on what it means to be transgender in #CrossFit. Her voice has been heard. Amplified. And we thank all of our transgender athletes, allies and friends for standing up for what is right - for having faith that the right thing would be done - and having the patience to see it thru. . We know the road is long and not without its hazards. The announcement has been made and now we will hear the opinions of others. Good and bad. Supportive and #transphobic. Maintain your faith that our community is a supportive one. That CrossFit as a whole is a safe place for all of the LGBTQ+ community and that OUTWOD will ALWAYS stand up for you and with you. . To all my sweet baby angels - I love you all so very much. . -Will

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Glassman's announcement during a happy hour hosted by OUTWOD—the largest national initiative for bringing together LGBTQ+ athletes and their allies to WOD (or "workout of the day") in a safe, inclusive fitness environment—comes months following the incident in which former legal researcher for CrossFit, Russell Berger, blatantly discriminated against the LGBTQ+ community by supporting an affiliate gym for canceling a Pride event.

But long before those disgraceful goings-on during Pride month, LGBTQ+ athletes and allies have been disenfranchised by and vocally opposed to the CrossFit Games transgender policy. Back in 2014Chloie Jönsson sued CrossFit HQ for $2.5 million, citing discrimination, intentional infliction of emotional distress and unfair competition after she was outed as trans* and informed she would have to compete in the men’s division despite having transitioned over a decade earlier. Ultimately, the case was settled out of court.

I knew who I was as a human being at age 14. I didn’t start growing up till I was 25. Adulthood started around 30. At 35 I realized I had to start loving myself & finally at 38 did I start doing that. Most of what I’ve gone thru has been on my own in my own head but I sure as Fck wouldn’t have gotten to this point without all the people I consider friends. That may make sense to you and it may not but it doesn’t really matter as long as it makes sense to me (& whatever odd balls understand my speak). And to everybody out there they had followed any part of my journey, DMd me, commented on a photo or even critiqued me.. thank you for helping me to be unconditionally me! *end of sappy post. @doughnutsanddeadlifts @iamdndl @chrismstanton ? @krissymaecagney @for.buck.sake @jasonlane74 @meegsley @false_mrsa

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“I always loved CrossFit so much for how inclusive it felt," Jönsson tells Them. "So when this all happened four years ago, it felt so divided. And now I’m hoping that it can all go back together again. I want it to feel like everyone is included, and everyone has the same opportunity,"

While the exact policies are still being metered out, the next edition of the CrossFit HQ Rulebook, released every December, should include the updates, says Will Lanier, founder and executive director of The OUT Foundation and OUTWOD, which also raises funds for LGBTQ+ organizations. Likely, this will mirror the International Olympic Committee’s established policies and guidelines. And once the specifics are announced and trans* athletes start competing, Lanier says OUTWOD will educate the greater CrossFit community regarding how to be respectful about names and pronouns, and to answer other questions people might have.

Hopefully, these efforts from CrossFit are a sign that trans* athlete inclusion in all sports and athletic competitions will pick up speed. CrossFit is proving itself as a trendsetter for LGBTQ+ inclusion, after all.

Here's why CrossFit is the Starbucks of the fitness world. Or celebrate the LGBTQ community with Chromat’s empowering gender-nonconforming ethos.

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