USA Powerlifting Bans Transgender Athletes from Competition

The powerlifting body posted the stance in an update on their website.

USA Powerlifting has published a post on their website entitled “Transgender Participation Policy” which states the inclusion of transgender athletes, be they male to female or female to male, “compromises fair play.”

The full text is below, note that the bolding was added by BarBend’s editorial team.

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USA Powerlifting is an inclusive organization for all athletes and members who comply with its rules, policies, procedures, and bylaws.  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.

USA Powerlifting, as a National Affiliate of the International Powerlifting Federation (IPF) adopted, and follows the policies as defined by the IPF Medical Committee which impact the participation of transgender individuals in events sanctioned by USA Powerlifting.

Two areas of policy impact such participation:

The first has to do with the use of testosterone or other androgens, commonly used to assist in transition from female to male.  By virtue of the anabolic nature of these compounds, they are not allowed, nor is a Therapeutic Use Exemption granted for such use for anyone.  This applies to any and all medical conditions, which might be treated through use of androgens.

The second area involves the participation of male to female competitors.  Through analysis the impact of maturation in the presence naturally occurring androgens as the level necessary for male development, significant advantages are had, including but not limited to increased body and muscle mass, bone density, bone structure, and connective tissue.  These advantages are not eliminated by reduction of serum androgens such as testosterone yielding a potential advantage in strength sports such as powerlifting.

The IPF added acceptance of the International Olympic Committee Guidelines on inclusion of transgender individuals in competition.  However, the IOC Guidelines also allows sports to determine the impact on fair play through such inclusion.  The IPF Medical Committee, while respecting the rights of those who choose to transition, has been consistent in its opinion that use of testosterone and participation of male to female transgender athletes in our sport compromises fair play.

While other sports and activities, and other powerlifting organizations may choose a different interpretation of the impact on their respective competitive activities, USA Powerlifting will continue to follow the policies as defined by the IPF Medical Committee.  If, or when the membership of USA Powerlifting, through the processes of governance as defined in the Constitution and Bylaws of our Federation, chooses to address these policies, their interpretation and adherence to them may change.

Plates for weightlifting

The USAPL is an affiliate of the International Powerlifting Federation, although the IPF adopted the International Olympic Committee’s rules regarding transgender athletes, which allows them to compete provided their hormones are within normal ranges. At their general assembly in 2017, the IPF noted that those who transition from female to male can compete in the male category without restriction and that those who transition from male to female were able to compete if,

her total testosterone level in serum has been below 10 nmol/L for at least 12 months prior to her first competition (and that) The athlete’s total testosterone level in serum must remain below 10 nmol/L throughout the period of desired eligibility to compete in the female category.

Some media outlets have written that this is a result of transgender female powerlifter JayCee Cooper’s attempts to compete in the USAPL. She was told this week that she was ineligible for competition and not long after it became clear that the USAPL had no such policy, their “Transgender Participation Policy” was published on their site.


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 “USA Powerlifting Bans Transgender Athletes from Competition”

  1. The break-neck speed these progressive policy demands (coupled with threats to conformity) are gaining ground should shock everyone. The buffoonish claim by Congresswoman Ilhan Omar that USAPL’s transgender policy is “unscientific” would be the stuff of slapstick comedy if it wasn’t so accepted by so many group-thinkers. A person could only believe something that ridiculous if they turned their back on the whole of human physiological and kinematics knowledge and science. Believe what you want about the psychological aspects of transgenderism, but make no mistake, the biological and physiological differences between the human male and female bodies are just to substantial and consequential to be dismissed out-of-hand as irrelevant. If the feminists don’t wake-up and stand-up to this threat to women’s competitive sports, it won’t be long before nearly all women’s sports will be “participation only” events.

  2. This seems unnecessary as I can’t imagine that it’s a pervasive problem. Bread and circuses for the weight training community.

    Trans people seem to be the easiest minority to pick on at the moment.

  3. This only compromises “fair play” if your focus is on winning, winning silly gaudy trophies, or setting records. If the sport were about participation — making the great lifetime habit of power lifting available to everyone, this would not have been decided this way. A compromise? Allow anyone to participate, but set up transgender categories for trophies and separate records? Not that hard…

    • Well it’s not about participation. It’s about winning. It’s a sport. There are trophies and not everyone is good enough to earn one. That is what makes it special. That is why people watch. Seeing something that the best human on the planet can do is amazing, it’s not amazing watching 3,000 mediocre people just like you do the same thing you can do. Competition brings out the best in everything. Even trees compete for nutrients. May the best Man or Woman win!

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