Anna Kennedy :
A transgender man who goes by the name Anne Andres, won the women’s weightlifting competition in the western division of Canada’s Powerlifting Union (CPU) on August 13. He won with a score of 597.5 kilograms (about 1317 pounds) across three lifts, which was 200 kg greater than his closest competitor, SuJan Gill. Consequently, he set new national women’s weightlifting records in all four categories – squat, bench press, deadlift, and total — and an unofficial world record. Andres’ success has sparked unease and distress among his competitors and proponents for women’s sports.
Canadian powerlifter April Hutchinson addressed the issue in an interview with Talk TV on August 14. She said, “a lot of women yesterday dropped out of the competition because they knew that Anne (Andres) would be lifting.”
U.S. women’s sports advocate Riley Gaines publicly critiqued Andres and the CPU for the polices which encourage the unfairness. She said, “Andres’ record is a mediocre lift by a mediocre male powerlifter because the Canadian powerlifting union is discriminating against female athletes.”
Concern and criticism have been building for months, with Andres winning gold in ten of 12 sanctioned competitions ‘she’ entered, and placing second and third in the other two. Andres has mocked ‘her’ female opponents on social media, calling women’s bench press “so bad” in a video.
In February, a protest gathered in response to Andres winning a competition in British Columbia. The protest, organized by Linda Blade, founder of the International Consortium on Female Sport, said its purpose was to “draw attention to policies that they say elevate transgender women’s inclusion over other considerations.” Blade summarizes the group’s motives, saying, “we were there because there has been a policy capture across Canada allowing… people born male to self-identify into women’s sports.”
Jonathan Kay, a Canadian journalist, addressed the injustice of Andres, a biological male, competing against the women, in the B.C. weightlifting competition. Writing in Quillette, Kay called to action those responsible “with a biologically male athlete poised to break a Canadian women’s record, it’s time for the sport’s leaders to acknowledge the reality of sexual dimorphism.”
CPU’s current policy on transgender participation states, “individuals should not be required to disclose their trans identity or history to the sport organization in order to participate in high-performance sport.” Journalist Karishma Rao on SK POP explains what this means, saying, “Anne Andres can compete in women’s powerlifting competitions since the gender self-identification policy is in effect. This allows athletes to take part in competitions based on their preferred gender alone and without requiring them to submit information about their hormones or medical transitions.”