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USA Powerlifting Has Agreed to Talk to A Transgender Athlete About Its Trans Ban

This is the first step in resolving this complicated year-long dispute.

USA Powerlifting Has Agreed to Talk to A Transgender Athlete About Their Trans Ban
Anna Berdnik via Shutterstock

The USA Powerlifting's ban on transgender athletes from competing as their identifying gender will be discussed in a sit-down meeting between the organization and members of the LGBTQ community, the latest chapter in a yearlong controversy.

The ban was unofficially instated in January of last year, when transgender female powerlifter JayCee Cooper had her application to compete in the women’s division in a Minnesota meet rejected. Then, on May 9, the USAPL officially upheld its policy.

USAPL President Larry Maile told M&F at the time, “There’s no data on male-to-female transitions in powerlifting. "For the same reasons that, probably, most small groups that are often subject to prejudice experience, they don’t want to be studied in essence. But it’s a low number as well, and that provides its own difficulties.” 

Competitors at the USAPL Minnesota State Championship protested the decision by timing out all nine of their attempts (three each for the squat, deadlift, and bench press). Many of the protestors, who donned green singlets, were members of Team Green—a well-established powerlifting team based out of The Movement Minneapolis Gym.

Outsports reported on October 30 that Maile and the lawyers of a trans athlete are going to sit down with a mediator with the aim of resolving a complaint that was filed with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights

MDHR’s goal is for the USAPL to lift the ban, and they say that if this doesn’t happen an investigation can take place to assess whether or not there was probable cause for discrimination. Of course, this depends on the outcome of the meeting, for which a date has yet to be set.

The inclusion of transgender athletes in powerlifting, and other sports, has stirred much controversy in recent years. The International Olympic Committee allows for athletes to compete as their identifying genders, so long as their testosterone levels are at certain levels. Some have called on the USAPL to adopt the IOC's rules. 

As always, we'll be following the issue closely.

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