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.