UPDATE: The national office of USA Powerlifting has at last responded to our many emails seeking comment, dating back to February. We’ve replied to offer USAPL president, Larry Maile, an interview, and we are awaiting a response.
Earlier in May, Maile posted a message on social media claiming we had not in fact tried to offer him an opportunity to comment.
The link to the video mentioned in the social media post — which should be noted, is an edited version of the meeting of the national governors board — can be reached by clicking here.
Outsports did receive a response from the chair of the International Powerlifting Federation and we have included that within our report.
We await a response and the opportunity to interview Maile or anyone from USAPL at length.
ORIGINAL STORY: Advocates for more inclusive policies in the sport of powerlifting vow “our fight for trans inclusion is not over,” following a crushing loss Thursday at the meeting of USA Powerlifting’s national board of governors.
JayCee Cooper, a member of USAPL, tweeted the stunning result of a vote on a policy that would allow trans women lifters, like herself, to compete. The vote was 46-4 with one abstention.
4 in favor 46 against 1 abstained— JayCee Cooper (@jayceeisalive) May 9, 2019
Cooper and her Pull for Pride cofounder, Breanna Diaz — who identifies as cis queer Latinx — collaborated on the proposal to rewrite the rules on trans participation.
The board allowed speakers for and against the trans inclusion proposal to make presentations, including Cooper and another powerlifter, Rebecca Fox, as well as the chair of USAPL’s Therapeutic Use Exemption committee, Dr. Kristopher Hunt.
Hunt is himself a powerlifter and an emergency room physician at St. Vincent Emergency Physicians, Inc. in Indiana., and according to the Women’s Strength Coalition, he made his case with “anti-transgender rhetoric” and by deadnaming another trans powerlifter, Mary Gregory, who is a USAPL referee and made headlines by being disqualified by another powerlifting federation last week for being transgender.
Analyzing and deadnaming Mary at the NGB meeting pic.twitter.com/Qhm0HSri1Y— JayCee Cooper (@jayceeisalive) May 9, 2019
Another one of the slides in his powerpoint presentation, Cooper tweeted, was to bring up the case of Caster Semenya, who is not transgender. The IAAF rules in her case apply to women with DSDs — differences of sexual development — not transgender athletes. But Hunt’s point was to highlight, as he did in this slide, the IAAF’s goal of “preserving the integrity of female athletics.”
According to the coalition, Hunt also revealed that the president of USAPL, psychologist Larry Maile, crafted the organization’s policy of trans exclusion with the help of an anti-transgender group based in the U.K., Fair Play for Women.
The “Transgender Participation Policy” posted on the USAPL site makes several points, each of which is to reinforce why the group has decided transgender lifters cannot participate, and we ask readers to overlook the policy’s many grammatical errors:
- Despite the International Powerlifting Federation’s acceptance of the International Olympic Committee’s rules on transgender inclusion, the IPF’s medical committee — of which Dr. Maile is a member — believes the “use of testosterone and participation of male to female transgender athletes in our sport compromises fair play.” Outsports reached out to the members of the IPF medical committee for confirmation, and received this response from its chair:
“The Medical Committee of IPF is a body under IPF dealing with medical matters. We follows [sic] the IPF policy and is under the instruction of IPF EC.
“The IPF policy is accepting the IOC guidelines on inclusion of transgender individuals in competition. The role of Medical committee is to consider case by case the use of banned substance, like exogenous hormones, in transgender individuals to maintain sexual characteristics as these substances need TUE approval.
Dr Josephine Ip
Current IPF Medical committee Chair”
You’ll note Chairwoman Ip confirmed the IPF supports inclusion and that the only exceptions would be determined on a case by case basis. It remains unclear why Maile and USAPL would go against this in establishing a “transgender participation policy” that prohibits participation by trans athletes.
- USAPL claims “each sport is given the latitude to determine how the [IOC] guidelines are applied.”
- USAPL claims it “has not ban [sic] transgender athletes. There are rules surrounding requirements for membership as with any organization. Policy is set for the most fundamental of all of the rules, drug testing and secondly fairness in competition.”
- USAPL rejects accusations that it is discriminating against trans lifters, calling the term “misused,” and citing non-applicable analogies of age and cisgender men doping with testosterone. “We are a sports organization with rules and policies,” according to USAPL.
- USAPL explains why it won’t allow trans women to compete by calling them men. “Men naturally have a larger bone structure, higher bone density, stronger connective tissue and higher muscle density than women. These traits, even with reduced levels of testosterone do not go away. While MTF may be weaker and less muscle than they once were, the biological benefits given them at birth still remain over than of a female.”
- USAPL also claims it does not bar trans men from competing, but makes it clear they cannot take part in competitions if they are taking testosterone — which is what trans men do as part of their routine health care.
- USAPL posted a question from a hypothetical woman who asked, hypothetically, “I am a female and do not care if I compete against a transgender female, so why is it not allowed?” Their answer: “While we find it commendable that you feel this way, we must also look at the fairness in competition for the majority of our female members.”
You can read more at USAPL’s page for the incorrectly named “transgender participation policy.”
Late Thursday the Women’s Strength Coalition issued a statement on Instagram, responding to the 46-4 vote. Outsports reached out to USAPL for a response, and had not heard back by press time.
Below is the full text of the Women’s Strength Coalition statement via Instagram:
“Today, USA Powerlifting (USAPL) voted down, 4 to 46 with one abstention, the Transgender Participation Policy Proposal. The proposal would have repealed the current ban and replaced it with a trans inclusive and affirming policy, allowing trans athletes to compete consistent with their gender identity. The proposal amends USAPL’s non-discrimination provision to include gender identity, incorporates, in part, the 2015 International Olympic Committee (IOC) Consensus Meeting on Sex Reassignment and Hyperandrogenism, provides guidelines for trans inclusion, and defines key terms.
“From the beginning of the National Governing Board (NGB) meeting, USAPL leadership made clear their gross misunderstanding of transgender people, healthcare, and well-being. Without any prior notification to the policy drafter and presenters, USAPL allowed Dr. Kristopher Hunt, USAPL’s TUE Committee Chair, to present a powerpoint laced with anti-transgender rhetoric. Rather than focus on transgender participation in sports, Dr. Hunt compared cisgender men to cisgender women, dead named Mary Gregory, and mentioned that he and Larry Maile, USAPL President, have been working with Fair Play for Women, a U.K. based anti-transgender organization, to develop a transgender policy. At no time were the results or conclusions of the women’s-only survey sent out by Priscilla Ribic, USAPL Executive Director, mentioned.
“JayCee Cooper and Rebecca Fox were provided an opportunity to introduce and answer questions related to the proposed policy. While some questions were thoughtful, many were statements opposing transgender inclusion without reason.
“USAPL has continuously operated in bad faith throughout this process. While we appreciate the offer by Maile to create and include JayCee Cooper on an ad hoc inclusion committee, we question the intention and authenticity behind the offer. We look forward to the coming details.
“Our proposed policy may not have passed today, but our fight for trans inclusion is not over. Women’s Strength Coalition and Pull for Pride will not stop pushing for a trans affirming and inclusive policy until all are welcome on the platform.”