A biological male who identifies as a female powerlifter, has been stripped of four world records and medals he won recently during a major world women’s weightlifting competition. Organizers say the lifter should have been classified as “male.”
Mary Gregory, who made headlines last month for breaking four women’s records at a 100% Raw Powerlifting Federation event is now “infuriated” after the federation moved to disqualify Gregory’s lifts from its April 27 competition.
Following Gregory’s lifts, prominent female athletes took to Twitter to voice their concern with allowing a biological male to compete in women’s sporting events. Retired Olympic swimmer Sharron Davies argued that “a woman with female biology cannot compete.”
“This is a trans woman a male body with male physiology setting a world record & winning a woman’s event in America in powerlifting. A woman with female biology cannot compete,” Davies tweeted.. “It’s a pointless unfair playing field.”
Davies went on to lament that in many sports — especially in the United States — biological men may compete against biological women without having to undergo surgery or take hormones or even have a professional medical diagnosis.
“No surgery required today… no hormones… no medical diagnosis.. just self ID & reduced testosterone to a level x5 the highest average (98%) of XX females.. far worse than most realise. Madness & unfair,” she tweeted.
Kelly Holmes, who won a pair of gold medals in 2004, agreed with Davies and called it a “bloody joke” that the biological male was allowed to compete with women.
Earlier this month, the federation’s president Paul Bossi issued a statement explaining why “no female records will be broken” by Gregory’s lifts.
The explanation came after much media attention was paid to Gregory’s claim on social media of breaking records for females in that weight class in the master’s world squat, open world bench press, masters world deadlift and masters world total.
Bossi explained that the lifter was registered only as a female and gave no indication of male status. Because Gregory’s lifts broke records, the federation automatically requires that a drug test be taken to ensure the validity of the lifts.
“The Drug Testing Coordinator for this event performed the drug test at which time it was revealed that this female lifter was actually a male in the process of becoming a Transgender female,” the statement reads.
In a statement of “facts,” Bossi explained that the federation’s rules and the way it separates lifters by gender are based on “physiological classification rather than identification.”
“On the basis of all information presented to the Board of Directors for this particular case, the conclusion made, is that the correct physiological classification is male,” Bossi wrote. “Since the lifter’s gender classification for the purpose of our rules is not consistent with female, no female records will be broken by these lifts.”
No female competitors were denied placement at the competition because Gregory’s lifts went uncontested for that weight class.
Bossi disclosed that he met with the federation’s board president to discuss the matter on April 29.
The federation is currently working to institute a new transgender policy. Bossi stated that Gregory will be placed in the “Transgender Division” when it is introduced under the new policy.
Gregory responded to the federation’s decision in an interview with Outsports.
“It infuriated me,” Gregory said, adding that the negative press attention received from the ordeal feels like being “tarred and feathered.”
This week, the national board of governors for USA Powerlifting, an organization that organizes powerlifting competitions across the country and a national affiliate of the International Powerlifting Federation, voted 46-4 to uphold the organization’s ban on trans-identified male athletes competing in women’s competitions.
The vote came in response to a new policy proposal that was submitted by a transgender lifter who was banned from competing in a women’s competition in Minnesota and a queer feminist lifter.
USA Powerlifting received a letter from Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar in January after it prohibited transgender lifter JayCee Cooper from competing in a USA Powerlifting women’s competition.
Omar claimed that USA Powerlifting’s policy violated the Minnesota Human Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity.
USA Powerlifting defended its rules in a FAQ statement stressing that USA Powerlifting follows the policies as defined by the IPF Medical Committee.
USA Powerlifting pointed to the fact that “significant advantages are had” by biological males competing in women’s events, such as “increased body and muscle mass, bone density, bone structure, and connective tissue.”
“We are a sports organization with rules and policies,” the statement stresses. “They apply to everyone to provide a level playing field. We have restriction such as age eligibility, who can compete at our national events and so on.”
“No, you are not discriminated against because you are a 40-year-old college student that is not allowed to compete at Collegiate Nationals,” the USA Powerlifting statement continued. “No, we are not discriminating against your 7-year-old daughter by not letting her compete. It is simply the rules of this sport that [all must] follow if we are to [create a] fair playing field.”