In a bold and controversial move, Canadian male powerlifting coach Avi Silverberg has taken the debate around transgender athletes in sports to a new level. Frustrated by the recent uproar surrounding the issue, Silverberg decided to make a statement by breaking the women’s bench press record after declaring that he identifies as female.
The previous record in the 84+ kilogram category was held by Anne Andres, a transgender athlete who has dominated the powerlifting circuit, winning eight out of the last nine competitions. Open Powerlifting, a tracking website, recognizes Andres as a female competitor.
Andres witnessed Silverberg’s “mockery” of her record, as reported by the Independent Council on Women’s Sports. Silverberg’s bench press of 167.5 kilograms (369 pounds) not only shattered the previous record but also complied with the rules of the competition. The Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sports and the Canadian Powerlifting Union sanctioned the event, and according to their Trans Inclusion Policy, athletes can compete in any gendered category based solely on self-identification.
Team Canada powerlifting coach, Avi Silverberg just broke the Alberta WOMEN’s bench press record in the 84+ kg category at the “Heroes Classic.”
Former record holder, trans-identifying male, Anne Andres had a front row view as Silverberg mocked the discriminatory CPU policy… pic.twitter.com/ajhUJPB4gc
— ICONS Women (@icons_women) March 27, 2023
Before the meet, Andres posted a video questioning the subpar record for women’s bench press. In a response on Twitter, champion female swimmer Riley Gaines slammed Andres, stating, “Anne Andres (male who identifies and competes as a woman) doesn’t understand why female powerlifters are so ‘bad’ at the bench press. Well, I don’t know Anne, but maybe it’s because you have 20 times more testosterone than them. Just a thought…”.
WATCH the video below for more details:
Gaines, a spokeswoman for the Independent Women’s Forum, has been an outspoken critic of well-known transgender swimmer Lia Thomas. The controversy surrounding transgender athletes in sports reached its peak in 2022 when Thomas, then a student on the University of Pennsylvania’s swimming team, came out as female and started breaking records in women’s competitions.
This ongoing debate has prompted the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) to hire a new president, former Massachusetts Republican Governor Charlie Baker. His appointment is primarily aimed at addressing the controversies that have plagued multiple sports and raised the possibility of congressional oversight.
?️Trans identifying male, Anne Andres is Alberta Canada’s women’s powerlifting record holder in bench
?competes next month in women’s category at the 2023 CPU National Championships
?Recognizes no understanding of upper body strength differences btw males & females
— ICONS Women (@icons_women) January 4, 2023
Silverberg’s actions have undoubtedly stirred up the already heated debate surrounding transgender athletes and their participation in sports. By taking this provocative stance, he forces the sports community and the public to confront the issue head-on and reevaluate the current policies governing transgender athletes.
Is it fair for someone who was born male and has a biological advantage in terms of muscle mass and testosterone levels to compete in women’s sports? Or is the issue more nuanced, requiring a deeper understanding of the complexities surrounding gender identity and biological differences?
These are the questions that Silverberg’s protest raises, and they demand a thoughtful and thorough examination by the sports community, policymakers, and society as a whole.