The Transgender Debate in Competitive Sports

Published: Apr 09, 2014 00:08am EDT
By shaunmerritt, Entertainment/Sports Writer for Konsume Sports

Please Note: This article was updated Apr 09, 2014 @ 11:41am EDT


Chloie Jönsson, a transgender athlete, is suing CrossFit after the fitness company allegedly barred her from competing in the women's division of the CrossFit Games because she was born a man. The lawsuit raises many questions, but most importantly, it brings up the issue of how transgender athletes should be allowed to compete in sports. Moreover, it asks what is right and what is fair?

By all legal means, Chloie Jönsson is woman. She is legally recognized by California as a woman after sexual reassignment surgery in 2006 and has been on female hormone therapy ever since. However, a lot of people still hold that no matter what therapy a transgender athlete might undertake, they were born a man which still poses all the biological benefits. That is CrossFit's stance at least. 

"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," according to CrossFit's lawyer.

This seems to be the opinion of most on the matter, but very few understand the process a transgender person goes through to fully becomes recognized as a member of their identified gender. Years of hormones therapy is done to make their body change into their new gender. According to many doctors, when a man transitions into a female, the hormones decrease the muscle mass, bone density, strength, libido and aggression. In simple terms, she will stop producing at a "male" level and would then have the same hormone level of an average female.

However, the science still is not 100% conclusive, but this is an issue that is entirely new. On May 17, 2004, the IOC adopted a policy (the Stockholm Consensus) that opened the door for transgender athletes to compete in Olympic Games. There are requirements they must meet of course, but they are allowed to complete. Another example is that of transgender MMA fighter Fallon Fox.

On May 17, 2012, she became the first transgender athlete to complete in a major MMA event. In a two year span, she has gone 4-1 with one KO and two TKOs. While she has an impressive record, she has not dominated the women's division like so many of those who advocated against her, claimed that she would and that brings us back to Chloie Jönsson.

How do we address her particular situation? Can a man, who is now a woman, fairly compete against naturally born women in sports? The answer to these questions is not a simple yes or no, and honestly, that is not how this situation should be handled. The fact of the matter is that we already have a set of rules that already answer these matters for us and that is state and federal law. By law, Chloie Jönsson is female. That is what her birth certificate reads, her social security number identifies her as, and any and all other forms of identification would also identify her as such as well. Therefore, she should be competing amongst other women. 

We pride ourselves in this country about being equal and giving everyone a fair chance at success. Yes, we are not all born the same but we are still entitled to the same set of rights. If the law says Chloie Jönsson is a woman, let her compete as one. I hope CrossFit comes to its senses and realizes that its not about what makes a man a man or a woman a woman, its about sport and the spirit of competition. Chloie Jönsson just wants to compete and she should be allowed to do so. 


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