Male Powerlifter Shatters Women’s Record After Identifying as Female
A male professional powerlifter made headlines after competing in a women’s powerlifting competition and easily winning first place by breaking the regional record for bench pressing by almost 100 pounds. Avi Silverberg, the head coach for Team Canada Powerlifting, identified as a woman and entered the Heroes Classic women’s tournament in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada.
A Victory for Men’s Athletes in Women’s Competitions
Silverberg’s victory highlights the issue of men competing in women’s sports. The tournament rules stated that participants “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,” so Silverberg decided to prove a point. He casually walked on stage and bench-pressed nearly 370 pounds, beating the Alberta women’s record (275 pounds) by almost 100 pounds.
Calls for Fairness and Integrity in Women’s Competitions
“It doesn’t matter how Avi expresses himself or perceives himself. He clearly does not belong in women’s sport, and neither does any other male regardless of their motivation for wanting to participate,” the Independent Council on Women’s Sports (ICONS) wrote in a statement. “What Avi so obviously points out is that policies allowing men access to women’s sports completely remove any integrity in women’s competitions.”
Anne Andres, a transgender woman who held the 275-pound Alberta benchpress women’s record before Silverberg beat it, called the male powerlifter a “coward and a bigot” with “malicious intent” for his spectacle on Saturday. Interestingly, Andres has won eight of the nine competitions she participated in the last few years.
Voices for Fairness in Sports
“I think this proves a point. If a guy can just show up and then set the … record, doesn’t that prove that it’s not fair?” pro bodybuilder Greg Doucette said. “So how long before the powers-that-be suddenly wake up, smell the coffee and understand that if you’re born a female you’re not gonna be as powerful, as strong … as if you were born a male.”
In one of her Instagram posts on this issue, Anne Andres claims that Silverberg actually got his ID changed just so he could enter the women’s competition. Although Silverberg hasn’t made any comment on this yet, many say that he did it only to prove the absurdity of allowing anyone to participate in an official competition based on the gender that they identify with.
The Debate Continues
Silverberg’s victory has reignited the debate over allowing biological men to compete in women’s sports. Some argue that it’s unfair for men to compete against women, while others argue that everyone should be allowed to participate in sports based on their gender identity. It remains to be seen how sports organizations will address this issue in the future.