USA Powerlifting is under fire after breaking from sporting convention to effectively ban transgender men and women from competitions.
The sporting organisation issued a harsh new Transgender Participation Policy policy on January 30 that breaks from the permissive standards set by international sporting bodies like the International Olympic Committee.
The new rules place a near-total ban on all trans competitors, with trans men who take hormones to transition banned from competing along with all trans women.
USA Powerlifting transgender rules break from international sport standards
USA Powerlifting claimed that trans men have an unfair advantage over cisgender men because “testosterone or other androgens [are] commonly used to assist in transition from female to male”, before also claiming that trans women have an “unfair competitive advantage over non-transgender females due to increased bone density and muscle mass from pubertal exposure to testosterone.”
There is no evidence that trans men have any advantage over cis men in sport.
Claims that trans women have in-built advantages in sport due to “bone density” are frequently cited by anti-transgender activists, though Outsports points out that the myth has little basis in scientific research on the matter. Studies have also shown that cis black women have a higher bone density than white people of either gender.
USA Powerlifting’s reliance on the “unscientific” claims have sparked alarm from trans people and allies.
The policy comes after Minnesota trans woman JayCee Cooper had her application to compete in a powerlifting event denied in January.
Cooper says she was banned despite followed the standards set by the International Olympic Committee.
She said: “I submitted five test results spanning 2016 to present showing that my testosterone levels have been and continue to be significantly under the guidelines. I agreed to further testing.
“I watched as friends competed [in events] unimpeded. I saw them celebrating their triumphs and bonding with their teams all while knowing that I wasn’t competing with them because I am trans.”
Congresswoman hits out at ‘discriminatory, unscientific’ USA Powerlifting policy
Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, who represents Minnesota’s 5th District in the House of Representatives, has written to the body criticising the “discriminatory. unscientific policy”
She wrote: “Under the Minnesota Human Rights Act, discrimination against anyone based on their gender identity is illegal.
“This includes in public accommodations, and in Minnesota, organisations such as USA Powerlifling.”
She added: “I urge you to reconsider this discriminatory, unscientific policy and follow the example of the International Olympic Committee.
“The myth that trans women have a ‘direct competitive advantage’ is not supported by medical science, and it continues to stoke fear and violence against one of the most at-risk communities in the world.
“While I do not have direct jurisdiction over this matter as a U.S. Congresswoman, I am sending this letter to Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison with a recommendation that he investigate this discriminatory behaviour. “
JayCee Cooper responded: “Thank you Rep. Ilhan for your support and for asking for this to be looked at. Proud to be called your constituent. No one deserves to be excluded because of who they are.”
But USA Powerlifting insists: “USA Powerlifting is not a fit for every athlete and for every medical condition or situation. Simply, not all powerlifters are eligible to compete in USA Powerlifting.”