Ever since USA Powerlifting announced a complete blanket ban on transgender athletes back in January. Many powerlifters and advocates for inclusion in sports, most notably transgender powerlifter JayCee Cooper, Rebecca Fox and the Women’s Strength Coalition. All of whom have been working to help develop a policy for transgender inclusion in power lifting based on current scientific research and other policies in place from the International Olympic Committee and other national governing bodies for sports. The policy was developed surrounding the role of testosterone and human biological functions during the process of transition that would challenge the idea of an “unfair” playing field (or platform in this case). The new policy recommendations were rejected by USAPL in a National Governing Body board meeting this week during a vote 4 in favor, 46 against and 1 abstention.

The proposal was an attempt to amend USA Powerlifting’s policy “non-discrimination” policy with the inclusion of gender identity based on the policies from the 2015 International Olympic Committee (IOC) Consensus Meeting on Sex Reassignment and Hyperandrogenism. Despite the hard work of Cooper, Fox and others, it was made clear during the meeting that the overall committee had anti-trans biases. Even during a Q&A session with Cooper and Fox, many of the questions were rooted in anti-trans bias and statements including a power point presentation by Dr. Kristopher Hunt, USAPL’s TUE Committee Chair that was rooted in anti-trans bias. Dr. Hunt’s presentation compared cisgender males to cisgender females without any consideration for the transition process nor the physiological changes that affect sports performance in transgender athletes during the transition process.

It was also revealed that the USAPL President Larry Maile had been working with Fair Play for Women, a U.K. based anti-trans organization to influence and develop their transgender policies. Since the initial announcement of the blanket ban, Maile has been less than professional in his interactions with transgender advocates. He has gone on to share anti-trans memes on social media and has been outspoken opponent to transgender people. While the rejection of the trans inclusive policy serves as a setback, the Women’s Strength Coalition and activists are planning to keep pushing forward for the inclusion of transgender athletes in sports.

By Dirk Smith