The American organization in charge of setting up powerlifting competitions in the U.S. announced last week it will not permit transgender women to compete as women because of the use of testosterone in treatments for transitioning.
USA Powerlifting released a statement in late January outlining its position after JayCee Cooper, a trans woman, had an application to compete in a Minnesota event denied.
“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,” a portion of the statement read.
The organization added that, following the medical policies adopted by the International Powerlifting Federation, it does not permit 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," the statement explained. "This applies to any and all medical conditions which might be treated through use of androgens."
USA Powerlifting said the decision was made in part due to the “potential advantage in strength sports” that men generally have over women.
"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," the statement declared. "These advantages are not eliminated by reduction of serum androgens such as testosterone yielding a potential advantage in strength sports such as powerlifting."
Cooper, who can still compete in smaller events in her home town for the league’s untested divisions, told Outsports.com that she hopes the organization will one day change its policy on transgender individuals.
“I am hopeful that the USAPL membership will stand up for trans inclusion and be on the right side of history. Trans athletes should not be feared but celebrated fiercely,” Cooper said.
Last October, an American bronze medalist who lost a world championship cycling race to a transgender woman from Canada criticized the results as unfair.
In June, a transgender high school student — born a male — dominated female competition in 100- and 200-meter dashes in a Connecticut state track and field championship, sparking backlash from parents.
As of 2015, IOC guidelines require biologically born men who identify as transgender to block certain amounts of natural testosterone, but no longer require gender reassignment surgery in order to compete with one gender or the other.