Bearded Man Enters Female Powerlifting Competition as a Woman, Sets New Record

A male professional powerlifter recently entered a women’s competition by simply stating that he identified as a woman and easily won first place by smashing the regional record for bench pressing by almost 100 pounds.

Avi Silverberg, the head coach for Team Canada Powerlifting, entered the Heroes Classic women’s tournament in Lethbridge, Alberta on Saturday by identifying as a woman, despite being fully bearded and having undergone no hormone therapy. 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.

Photo: Alora Griffiths/Unsplash

“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, who held the 275-pound Alberta benchpress women’s record before Silverberg blew it away with his performance, called the male powerlifter a “coward and a bigot” with “malicious intent” for his spectacle on Saturday. It is important to note that Andres is transgender and has at one point admitted that “maybe my participation isn’t necessarily fair — you know, there’s science, whatever”. Interestingly she has won eight of the nine competitions she participated in in the last few years.


“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.