CANADA: Male Powerlifter Breaks Women’s Record To Protest Gender Self-Identification Policy
A male powerlifting coach self-identified into the women’s category and broke the Alberta women’s bench press record in an apparent effort to protest gender self-identification policies in sport.
Avi Silverberg, a powerlifting coach who has worked with Team Canada, self-identified as a woman last week to participate in the women’s category at the Heroes Classic Powerlifting Meet held in Lethbridge, Alberta. Silverberg was attempting to highlight the unfair advantage males have when competing in women’s athletics. In participating in the Saturday event, Silverberg unofficially broke the Alberta women’s bench press record for the 84+ kilograms category.
The Canadian Powerlifting Union (CPU) announced a gender self-identification policy earlier this year, explicitly allowing any males to participate in women’s competitions on the basis of “gender” alone.
In February, the CPU’s “Trans Inclusion Policy,” was released, containing an explicit statement that the CPU supported allowing transgender powerlifters to participate in the sex category of their choosing based on a guidance from the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (CCES).
“Based on this background and available evidence, the Expert Working Group felt that trans athletes should be able to participate in the gender with which they identify, regardless of whether or not they have undergone hormone therapy,” the document reads, deferring to the “inclusivity in sport” guidance from the CCES.
The official women’s bench press title holder in the 84+ kilograms category is Anne Andres, a trans-identified male. Andres was in the front row and witnessed Silverberg’s demonstration at the Heroes Classic Powerlifting Meet.
Andres is a biological male athlete who identifies as a “woman” and regularly participates in female weightlifting competitions. Andres has won eight out of nine competitions he has entered in the women’s category, and is listed as a female on the Open Powerlifting rankings site.
In February, just prior to the CPU’s announcement of a gender self-identification policy, Andres gained significant notoriety after sharing a video of himself appearing to mock female athletes, asking why female powerlifters were “so bad” at bench press.
In the video, Andres is seen sitting on a bench in a gym, leaning towards the camera in a casual manner and speaking directly into it.
“We all know that I’m a tranny freak,” Andres jokes about himself before going on to state: “… I mean, standard bench in power lifting competition for women, I don’t understand why it’s so bad.”
Riley Gaines, a spokeswoman for the Independent Women’s forum and an accomplished All American swimmer, shared a clip from the viral video on her Twitter in February, captioning it: “Anne Andres (male who identifies and competes as a woman) doesn’t understand why female powerlifters are so ‘bad’ at bench press… well idk Anne, but maybe it’s because you have 20 times more testosterone than them. Just a thought…”
ICONS Women, a campaign group dedicated to defending the rights of female athletes to single-sex sport, was first to post the clip of Silverberg at the Heroes Classic Powerlifting Meet on Monday, drawing attention to his act of defiance.
Speaking to Reduxx, ICONS Women noted that Silverberg’s demonstration provided insight into the end result of gender self-identification policies in sport.
“What Avi so obviously points out is that policies allowing men access to women’s sports completely remove any integrity in women’s competitions,” the organization said.
“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.”
While some were confused by the display, others praised Silverberg’s ironic application of the CPU’s “Transgender Policy.”
“I can’t get enough of this guy, Avi for prime minister. It takes real balls to do this. I said this all along, any man can change their documents to say they are a woman then go in and take records. Finally someone did it for the women and proved policy is a disgrace,” one Twitter user wrote in response.
Many echoed the sentiment, calling for more male athletes to do the same.
Women’s athletic competitions have become a major issue in the debate on gender ideology and its impact on women.
The issue mounted in public attention after a trans-identified male swimmer, Lia Thomas, began breaking women’s records and winning medals intended for female athletes in 2021. Since then, there have been several instances of trans-identified male athletes taking the podium in women’s sporting events.
Amidst growing pushback, the World Athletics recently announced they would be prohibiting transgender athletes who have undergone “male puberty” from competing in women’s world ranking competitions. During a press conference last week, World Athletics President Sebastian Coe cited scientific consideration and fairness for female athletes, stating he and the organization “believe the integrity of female category in athletics is paramount.”