Top Male Powerlifter Entered Women's Contest to Make a Point, Then Organization Issues a Sudden Rule Change That Disqualifies Him


Dale Shepherd, a former world record holder in weightlifting and multiple time New Zealand’s strongest man, applied to enter the weightlifting completion “Day of the Deads” in the women’s category.

According to the New Zealand news media website Stuff, Shepherd wrote the words, “I identify as a woman for this contest” on the entry form directly next to where entrants indicated whether they are male or female.

The Global Powerlifting Committee New Zealand (GPCNZ) told Shepherd last week he was ineligible to compete in the women’s category because he does not fit the criteria listed in the GPCNZ rulebook.

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The section of the rulebook that applies to transgender athletes, as revealed by Reduxx, was not found in an archived version on the official GPCNZ website dating to March 30 of this year.

Using the previous version of the rulebook, Shepherd applied to enter the competition as a woman but was denied entry.

Shepherd did receive an email reply to his application that reads in part, “One year of hormone therapy is appropriate transitional time before a (MTF) athlete may compete in the women’s division.”

Even the statement in the email, however, does not necessarily conform to the stated rules of the GPCNZ rulebook.

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According to the rules, a biological male must declare their gender to be female and have undergone hormone treatment for at least 12 months leading up to the contest.

There is, however, one additional bullet point in the rules that states, “To make this guideline more inclusive, transgendered people who are not taking hormones (medically contraindicated or otherwise) will go under complete confidential review.”

Even the April changes to the rulebook leave the idea of biological males competing against females in sanctioned weightlifting competitions completely subjective to the “confidential review” described therein.

Shepherd replied to the email, and in a section of that email obtained by Reduxx he said, “I think there are some legal issues here for GPC. If they require only one class of athlete to provide medical records to confirm hormone replacement therapy but do not require any other class of competitor to do so, that would constitute discrimination.”

According to Stuff, GPCNZ spokesperson Greg Turrell said that he is unaware of any transgender athletes ever participating in one of their competitions and that it has never been an issue before.

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While Turrell tried to downplay the incident, there was another just like it when Head Canadian powerlifting coach Avi Silverberg entered the Heroes Classic Powerlifting Meet held in Lethbridge, Alberta, in March on the women’s side.

Not only did Silverberg win the meet, but he bench pressed 370 pounds to set the Alberta female record, beating the old mark of 275 pounds.

According to the New York Post, the previous Alberta women’s record was also held by a biological man named Anne Andres who happened to be volunteering at the event. While Silverberg broke the previous record, Andres was standing at the edge of the platform watching the record get broken.

Organizer of the “Day of the Deads” event Mike MacKay said that there has been a huge recent uptick of females competing in strength events like the one he organized. One must wonder how long this uptick will last when women continually have to compete against men.

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