April Hutchinson is a Canadian powerlifter. She bravely recounted her personal battle with mental health, only to face another ongoing challenge – competing against a male athlete in elite women’s powerlifting competitions.
In the province of Alberta, Anne Andres and Avi Silverberg currently hold an astounding four out of five women’s powerlifting records in their respective weight categories. Avi Silverberg’s participation in a women’s competition shed light on the controversial self-identification guidelines in place.
April, while testifying about her struggles, shared her story, “I started powerlifting the very next day. It was a way for me to stay fit, active, and release any pent-up emotions such as anger, fear, or depression. In 2018, just a few months before the global impact of COVID, I found myself with a surplus of time due to canceled events and job losses. I began training in a friend’s garage, working during the day and dedicating two hours to training afterward. Within a year, my numbers qualified me for Team Canada.”
“However, there were no competitions at that time, and it would be another year, in 2021, before I had the opportunity to compete. When I participated in that competition, I won the gold medal, securing my place on Team Canada and granting me the chance to compete in the 2022 World Championships.”
“During this period, I discovered that one of the athletes I had been conversing with was biologically male. I inquired about their intentions to compete in future competitions, including nationals and worlds. This athlete from Melbourne confirmed their plans to compete. Expressing my concerns, I pointed out the unfairness to biological women.”
“In response, this individual promptly blocked and deleted my contact information, cutting off all communication. When I approached my federation to address the situation and inform them of the male-born athlete, my pleas and emails were disregarded. A year later, I contacted them again, and instead of addressing the issue, they sent me a letter threatening disciplinary action and suspension if I continued discussing the matter.”
“Since then, I have received two more letters, with the latest arriving just last month, warning me about the consequences of speaking out. They made it clear that if I voiced my concerns, I would be removed from Team Canada, jeopardizing my participation in the upcoming North Americans in August. Despite this, I continue to train and prepare, hoping to participate in the competition I worked so hard for.”
“When I asked the federation if they planned to take any action, they dismissed my concerns, stating that it was acceptable for one athlete to identify as transgender. But I ask, is it acceptable for one athlete to exceed the weight limit by 2.5 pounds on competition day? Is it acceptable for one athlete to test positive for banned substances? Should that one athlete be allowed to compete? One violation is already one too many.”
“I stand here today in support of USA Powerlifting because this issue affects both men and women. If my federation fails to acknowledge and address this matter with the international governing body, I fear that our sport in Canada will be suspended, denying both men and women the opportunity to participate.”
“As you can understand from my personal journey, powerlifting is essential for me to manage my emotions and navigate the challenges of daily life. It fills me with fear and sadness to think that it might be taken away from me. With the inclusion of the Melbourne athlete, it feels like it’s already being stripped away.”
“I implore all those who believe in fair competition in women’s sports to lend your support. I have a website called ‘I Stand with APR’ where you can make donations. Please continue to speak up and never be afraid. Men and women alike, use your voices because the discrimination against women must end today. Thank you.”
On June 12, 2023, the Independent Council on Women’s Sports (ICONS) and USA Powerlifting (USAPL) jointly held a press conference to protest a district court’s ruling that would force USAPL to cease operations in Minnesota unless it allows male athletes to compete against women in powerlifting competitions.
Since 2014, Benny A. King has been fully immersed in the world of combat sports. Starting with a blog about Greco Roman wrestling, Benny’s passion for combat sports has led him to explore various disciplines.