USAPL Powerlifters Time Out Their Attempts in Protest of Transgender Ban

After banning all transgender athletes from competing, the USAPL is facing resistance in Minnesota.

At USA Powerlifting’s Minnesota State Championships this weekend, members of powerlifting gym The Movement Minneapolis went 0 for 9, standing on the platform without attempting their lifts in protest of the USAPL’s policy on transgender athletes.

In late January, USA Powerlifting (USAPL) announced that transgender athletes would be banned from competition, saying that the participation of both male to female and female to male athletes “compromises fair play.”

It was speculated in some media outlets that USAPL’s ban was in response to JayCee Cooper, a transgender athlete who trains in Minnesota and was told she was ineligible to compete the same week that the USAPL announced the ban.

Watching from the sidelines, Cooper was present at the meet and wrote the following on her Instagram.

Saturday morning started with minuscule pockets of people in the crowd booing at dissenting lifters timing out their attempts. This quickly ceased as the message became clearer and more + more pronounced. Minnesota lifters want to share the platform. Minnesota lifters understand that we, trans athletes, are a crucial part of their/OUR community.

Sure there was some hate and transphobia – mostly reflecting the misinformed rhetoric coming from the @usapowerlifting national office- and there was plenty of childish behavior from those with a USAPL stamp of approval throughout the weekend. AND, more importantly, there was bonding in solidarity and incredibly important conversations had. <— this is everything.

Trans, non-binary, intersex, and gender non-conforming athletes aren’t going away, and in powerlifting, this is only the beginning. Take this as one example of what you can do to support right now. If you’ve been silent until this point, now is the time to say something. Now is the time to do something.

One athlete who was slated to compete, identified only as Ashley on her Instagram, shared her experience.

I went 0/9 in my second powerlifting meet yesterday and I am not mad about it at all. My teammates, along with #teamgreen from @movementmn, chose to use our platform time to protest @usapowerlifting’s ban on trans lifters.  

We each stood on the platform running out our time (and disqualifying ourselves) in solidarity. Despite minimal boos and an announcer that flat out refused to say the names of anyone protesting, we were met with minimal resistance.

We strongly encourage the USAPL to reconsider their position and follow the lead of the IOC and other strength-based sports that have well thought out trans-inclusive policies.

Utilizing outdated, fear-based policies and rhetoric does nothing but reinforce harmful myths about trans people. Trans women ARE WOMEN. Period. We are members of this federation and we are here to make a change.

On Reddit, one of the athletes who protested noted that their team had registered and paid their fees before the ban was announced, deciding that this “was the best way to express our disapproval as a team and a gym that has been very involved with MN USAPL.”

Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, the U.S. Representative for Minnesota’s 5th congressional district, has asked the state’s Attorney General Keith Ellison to investigate USAPL over the matter, writing in a letter that the USAPL should “follow the example of the International Olympic Committee.” The IOC allows transgender athletes to compete provided they’ve been undergoing hormone therapy and their androgenic hormones have been within acceptable ranges for at least twelve months prior to competition.

Featured image via @seven.seventeen on Instagram.

Nick English

Nick English

Nick is a content producer and journalist with over seven years’ experience reporting on four continents. At BarBend his writing more on nutrition and long-form content with a heaping dose of strength training. His underlying belief is in the middle path: you don’t have to count every calorie and complete every workout in order to benefit from a healthy lifestyle and a stronger body. Plus, big traps are cool.

5 thoughts on “USAPL Powerlifters Time Out Their Attempts in Protest of Transgender Ban”

  1. I absolutely agree with the USAPL decision. I sympathize with people that are transgender and realize that the choices they make based upon what they feel and who they are to be difficult and that transgenders want to live life like others do that were born with the gender that they identified with from birth. That said, allowing transgenders to compete in a drug-free support should not be allowed. In particular people born as male and transitioning to female naturally produce much more testosterone than their female competitors. There is no way to regulate that these competitors are taking drugs to inhibit their testosterone to levels of their birth female competitors and even if they are, how do we regulate that they have not only before a meet reduced their testosterone below a required level, but for the months previous they used their natural testosterone to increase muscle mass at a rate their birth female competitors have not possible means of doing? I do not believe that all transgender athletes will do this or even that the number that would do this is a large number. However, in the USAPL league that prides itself to be drug-free, transgenders athletes would definitely have an advantage since they are taking drugs for their gender reassignments that have real-life advantages for weight lifting. I was shocked by the Olympic committee allowing transgenders , but pleased (as well as sympathetic) that USAPL made the opposite decision.

    • Male to female (MtF) athletes are on a constant prescribed hormone therapy that reduces their testosterone levels below female normal levels. Additionally, once an MtF athlete has had gender surgery, they no longer have testes and can produce almost no testosterone at all.

      Male normal T levels are 300-1200 ng/dL. Female normal levels are 15-70 ng/dL, MtF athletes normally register 0-20 ng/dL.

      Because of this, trans women, who may (not always) have larger skeletal structures end up at a disadvantage with less muscle mass to move and manage the larger skeletal structure.

      MtFs who are pre-op (before surgery) cannot violate that HRT regiment without risking serious effects. MtFs who are post-op are simply incapable of achieving the testosterone levels you claim. It’s physically impossible. In fact, MtFs post-op often have add a small amount of DHEA to their dietary supplements to raise testosterone levels back to at least 20 ng/dL in order to achieve orgasms.

      The IOC and NCAA have studied this exhaustively for years. The IOC and NCAA both allowed trans athletes to compete nearly 20 years ago. Yet despite this, zero trans athletes have competed in the Olympics ever, anywhere. If trans athletes had this massive advantage, after 20 years and 4 Olympics since being allowed to participate, you should see some statistical presence. In fact, you should see outlier levels of trans athletes as champions, yet you do not. It does not happen. So both the clinical and the real world data says that your “logic” is incorrect.

      By the way, the first transgender athlete to make an Olympic team anywhere was here in the USA, Chris Mosier, a trans man. Assigned female at birth (AFAB) and transitioning as a Female to Male (FtM) athlete, Chris has had to take testosterone injections to get into the male normal range (which is huge and broad). While he qualified in 2016, he did not get to participate because the IOC rules were missing clarifications for FtM athletes and had been focused on MtF athletes. That oversight has been corrected.

      But it’s funny, to me, that after 20 years, the first Olympic US transgender athlete is a FtM athlete and not MtF, which everyone seems to get upset about. I wonder what biases that reveals?

    • The idea that people have an assigned gender at birth is wrong thinking. We need to move past that as a species and understand that it’s really not that simple and that our education has been teaching us wrongly for an incredibly long time.

      What people have at birth are biological sex organs which is not the same thing as their gender.

      Fortunately, studies have been completed that have gone a long ways towards showing a biological basis beneath a person’s gender identity AND that the biological basis is brain related instead of sexual organ related.

      You’re also overlooking the fact that there are transgender women AND men.

      I for one am not surprised by the US olympic committee allowing transgendered men and women. Their stance is based on science whereas USAPL’s appears to be based on rhetoric. Cara has a great response that talks about WHY that is…

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