Transgender Powerlifting: A Guide to Inclusive Federations

The number of federations allowing transgender powerlifters to compete is slowly growing.

The American powerlifting scene is crowded, with more than 20 different federations around the United States and thousands of strength competitions each year. With so many organizations and different policies for each one, it’s tough to keep track of them all. Many federations don’t have a transgender inclusion policy at all, and others have one that isn’t shared publicly. So it’s no surprise many trans athletes are maxed out in frustration before even registering for a meet, let alone putting on a singlet and competing.

So which of these organizations are trans athlete friendly? Check out the list below to see where transgender athletes are welcome and find an event near you.

The American Drug-Free Powerlifting Federation

The ADFPF hosts competitions around the Midwest and Massachusetts and it welcomes all lifters to competition. Their transgender athlete policy was designated by their international affiliate, the World Drug-Free Powerlifting Federation, which in turn is designed to mirror the IOC’s recommendations.

There were a few additions, though:

  1. Transgender lifters will be categorised in the sex that they have legally registered themselves as.
  2. When undertaking drugs testing they will be tested by an Officer of the same sex as indicated by them in [item 1] above.
  3. Where Female – Male reassignment has been undertaken the lifter must submit a [therapeutic use exemption (TUE)] to their National Federation indicating the medication they are prescribed. There are no other requirements under M-F.
  4. Where Male – Female reassignment has been undertaken the individual must obtain a TUE as in [item 3] above but must also additionally provide proof that they have a testosterone level no greater than five nanomoles per litre of blood as per the IOC recommendations for transgender athletes.

Note: Any drug testing results will examine the contents of any TUE application. This includes the actual medication and the levels as per the dosage permitted regarding treatment.”

[Learn more: What It’s Like Competing in Powerlifting as a Transgender Male.]

Revolution Powerlifting Syndicate

Revolution Powerlifting Syndicate hosts meets along the East Coast and around the Southeast. Their transgender athlete policy states that transgender males (FTM) are allowed to compete only in the men’s division.

A transgender female (MTF) athlete may compete in the men’s or women’s divisions. To qualify for the women’s division, the athlete must be treated with testosterone suppression medication for a minimum of one year prior to competition.

Amateur Athletic Union

The Amateur Athletic Union is a nationwide organization that hosts many sporting events, including powerlifting meets. They have a transgender athlete policy for all sports which requires an athlete “who wishes to compete as the gender other than that set out on the birth certificate” to apply for an exception.

Application details note:

“The applicant shall provide all medical documents and physician reports, including psychiatric material, which the applicant believes supports the application, to an independent medical expert selected by the AAU.”

The athlete is responsible for all fees and expenses associated with the application, inclusive of the independent medical expert’s fees, and if the decision of the independent medical expert is disputed, the athlete can appeal to The National Board. Any decision of theirs can in turn be appealed to the National Board of Appeals.

365 Strong

365 Strong hosts meets around the Midwest and North Carolina. Transgender athletes can participate in the Untested division.

United States Powerlifting Association (USPA)

The USPA is the second biggest federation behind the USAPL and they host meets all over the country. Transgender athletes can participate in the Untested division.

The International Association of Trans Bodybuilders (IATB)

The IATB is a bodybuilding and powerlifting organization in Atlanta GA. They welcome transgender, gender non-conforming, and cisgender athletes to compete. Trans athletes can lift in their confirmed gender category or in the mx division.

Pull for Pride

Pull for Pride isn’t actually a federation, it’s a charity deadlift event hosted during the month of June in ten cities around the US and one in Canada. This event is non-gendered, with no weigh-ins and no singlets required. Each event raises money for a local LGBTQ+ youth organization.

Wrapping Up

Several strength sports have inclusive practices like those recommended by the International Olympic Committee or they’ve devised their own policies. More and more transgender athletes can now try to best their PRs in a competitive atmosphere — good luck!

Featured image via @jayceeisalive on Instagram.

Elisabeth Saunders

Elisabeth Saunders

Elisabeth Saunders, better known as Lis Smash to her friends and clients, is a writer and strength coach living in Atlanta, GA.  After earning degrees in Journalism (Bachelor’s) and Sports Management (Master’s), Lis worked in corporate sports marketing and event planning before she put that life behind her to become a personal trainer. As a coach over the last eight years, Lis taught boot camp, CrossFit, powerlifting, weightlifting and beginner barbell classes. She’s also the founder and former operating partner of CrossFit Midtown and East Atlanta Barbell Club.

Today, Lis is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and coach of the Fantastic Beasts, Atlanta’s LGBTQ+ Powerlifting Club, and the Atlanta Womxn’s Barbell Club. She also coaches clients through her business, Team Lis Smash.

Lis competes in powerlifting in the 148- and 158-pound weight classes. She holds Georgia-state squat records in both the USAPL and USPA. This summer Lis is lifting at Atlanta Pull for Pride and the USPA Drug-Tested Nationals in Las Vegas. She’ll also be coaching four of her athletes in that competition.

In the past Lis wrote for such esteemed publications as the Brandon High School Emblem and Arby’s Restaurant Group’s internal newsletter. Now she creates content regularly on her Patreon page, Smash Strength, as well as here at BarBend.

 

Formerly a USAPL meet director and state referee, now Lis lends her skills to more inclusive organizations. She is meet director of this year’s Atlanta Pull for Pride fundraiser and the IATB’s fall powerlifting meet. When she’s not working or training, Lis enjoys drinking coffee and basking in the sunshine with her 14-year-old rescue dog Cady

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