A Canadian male powerlifter participated in a women’s event and broke a record as a means of protesting against biological men competing in female sports.
Avi Silverberg, who has been the head coach for Team Canada Powerlifting for over a decade, identified as a female in order to compete at the Heroes Classic tournament in Lethbridge, Alberta. He broke a record that was held by a transgender lifter who was also in attendance.
The Independent Council on Women’s Sports (ICONS), an athlete activist group, shared a video of Silverberg at the competition, approaching the platform while wearing a regular men’s singlet and sporting a large beard.
Silverberg bench-pressed nearly 370 pounds with ease, defeating the current Alberta women’s record by a staggering 100 pounds. The previous record of 275 pounds was held by Anne Andres, a transgender athlete who was present at the event as a volunteer.
Andres also holds the Alberta women’s record for the deadlift, which stands at an impressive 544 pounds. This gives her the local record for the total of all three lifts, as she lifted a combined weight of 1,245 pounds. According to ICONS, Andres has competed in the women’s category in nine competitions over the last four years, winning all but once.
ICONS said that Silverberg “mocked the discriminatory [Canadian Powerlifting Union] policy” that allows athletes to compete based on their “gender identity and expression rather than their biological sex.”
Under current rules, the Canadian Powerlifting Union allows biological men to only need to “identify” as a female in order to compete. The policy states:
Individuals participating in development and recreational sport should be able to participate in the gender with which they identify and not be subject to requirements for disclosure of personal information beyond those required of cisgender athletes.
The policy also does not even require participants to have had transgender surgery or hormone therapy that may help to level the playing field:
Nor should there be any requirement for hormonal therapy or surgery. Hormone therapy should not be required for an individual to participate in high-performance sport in the gender category that is consistent with their gender identity, unless the sport organization can prove that hormone therapy is a reasonable and bona fide requirement.
Individuals should not be required to disclose their trans identity or history to the sport organization in order to participate in high-performance sport unless there is a justified reason requiring them to do so. Surgical intervention should not be required for an individual to participate in high-performance sport (LTAD stages Train to Compete in the gender category that is consistent with their gender identity.
The debate around biological men competing in women’s sports has become a hot-button issue over recent years as transgender athletes continue to break records and steal plaudits and prize money from biological women.
Last week, the President of World Athletics, Lord Sebastian Coe announced that transgender women would no longer be able to compete in the female category at international events. He described the decision as “guided by the overarching principle which is to protect the female category.”
“Decisions are always difficult when they involve conflicting needs and rights between different groups, but we continue to take the view that we must maintain fairness for female athletes above all other considerations,” Coe said in a statement.
“We will be guided in this by the science around physical performance and male advantage which will inevitably develop over the coming years,” he continued. “As more evidence becomes available, we will review our position, but we believe the integrity of the female category in athletics is paramount.”
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