The consequences incurred by eradicating opportunities for transgender athletes to succeed or even participate in competitive sport are now becoming increasingly discussed. This article highlights the struggles some have faced after USA Powerlifting issued a ban on transgender women competing against cisgendered women in the sport.
Transgender women (those who have transitioned to become a woman) competing in female competitions is a “highly controversial topic discussed among sports organizations and spectators” due to the theoretical athletic and physical advantages of being biologically male (often argued to be linked to testosterone levels).
The USA Powerlifting ban is something that has caused negative waves in the transgender community, and people are lobbying for changes to be made. Due to restrictions imposed upon transgender athletes by many sport organizations such as USA Powerlifting, competitive environments have become unwelcoming. The “lack of inclusive and comfortable environments is seen as the primary barrier for transgender participation.”
On Sunday, February 17th, Canberra Gym will be hosting an Australia powerlifting competition (Burley Strength) with an optional third gender category called ‘Mx,’ with the aim of inclusivity, comfort, and promotion of sport for non-binary individuals. An article by Hargie et al. (2017) argues that this possible segregation through creation of a third gender category may lead to further social exclusion: being depicted as different from the gender they claim to be (a transgender woman not being truly seen as a woman, rather as a third category, Mx). Despite this concern, many hope that the example provided by Burley Strength will pave the way for other organizations to become more educated on the obstacles transgender people face, and to be inclusive of the transgender and non-binary community.
Featured Image: Andy Kaladelfos, a transgender athlete, will be competing in Burley Strength’s novice competition on Sunday, February 17th, 2019