A transgender athlete who claims she was denied entrance into a CrossFit competition because she was not born a male is suing the company.
Chloie Jonsson, a personal trainer, claims she was not allowed to compete in the women-only division of last year's CrossFit Games. Jonsson is seeking $2.5 million in damages in the lawsuit, which was filed last week in Santa Cruz, CA, CNN reported. CrossFit is charged with discrimination, intentional infliction of emotional distress and unfair competition, according to the report.
In an online interview with ABC News posted on Monday, Jonsson says she learned of CrossFit's regulations via a friend's anonymous email correspondence with CrossFit inquiring about the regulations regarding transgender athletes.
"We got a response saying all athletes must register and compete under the gender they were born as," Jonsson said in the interview. "We had several back-and-forths before I contacted Wakeen (McCoy, Jonsson's attorney), and the last one I had, I posed the situation to them that if I was to compete with men, I would be at a clear disadvantage. But if you take a woman who has transitioned to male and put him with females that he would be at a clear advantage. And they never responded to this letter. After waiting several months, that's when I contacted Wakeen."
McCoy told ABC News: "California law is very clear. Under the Unruh Act, they cannot discriminate against Chloie because of her gender identity."
According to a letter McCoy received from CrossFit's attorney last October, CrossFit maintains that because Jonsson was born as a male, she should compete in the men's division. The letter also stated that the company had an "obligation to protect the 'rights' of all competitors and the competition itself," according to the CNN report.
"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 CrossFit attorney wrote to McCoy, per the CNN report.
"I was completely blown away because CrossFit is portrayed as such an open and inviting community," Jonsson told ABC News. "I'm still blown away that they're so steadfast in not allowing me to participate except with men, which I don't understand."
Jonsson said she began transitioning to female when she was 16 years old and shared her gender identity with a select few but had never publicly announced she was transgender. She states in the lawsuit that she had sexual reassignment surgery in 2006 and has been on female hormone therapy.
"This is all new to me," Jonsson says. "Having to be out and identify publicly is just totally new. I'm getting tons of emails and messages showing support. As for the negative side, I'm not really seeing much of it, and I don't really care to because I'm sure people have strong opinions."
A CrossFit spokesperson from the company's corporate office in Santa Cruz has not immediately responded to a request seeking comment.