A British rapper named “Zuby” garnered worldwide attention in March of 2019 after posting a video of himself declaring he had broken the British Women’s deadlift record.
In the tweet Zuby said that he “identified as a woman whilst lifting the weight,” ultimately trolling the debate of transgender people competing in athletic events.
He claimed to have broken the women’s dead-lift record of 238kg (528 pounds), and he said it was “without even trying”.
“Just deciding on a whim that Zuby says he’s identifying as a woman, that’s not how it works,” said Dawn Ennis, managing editor of Outsports News, an LGBTQ sports publication.
Ennis said Zuby was trying to make a point, but noted that it’s an issue that affects “real people here in our country.”
In an interview with conservative commenter Ben Shapiro Zuby said he felt that the video resonated with people because he’s not a professional lifter.
“If a recreational lifter, such as myself, can set those kinds of records in the women’s division I think it should show people what the difference is and why that might be an idea people want to reconsider,” said Zuby.
Different athletic organizations both in the United States and around the world have their own policies in place to include transgender athletes.
The International Olympic Committee, the National Collegiate Athletic Association and the NAIA all have rules that say transgender women need to pass certain tests. USA Powerlifting, however, does not allow transgender women to compete as women.
The explanation in their participation policy states:
“Men naturally have a larger bone structure, higher bone density, stronger connective tissue and higher muscle density than women. These traits, even with reduced levels of testosterone do not go away.”
JayCee Cooper, a powerlifter who is a transgender woman, was denied access to compete back in 2018, according to a report by Outsports, with the explanation that going through male puberty makes for an increased bone density and muscle mass.
In an interview with Dr. Rachel McKinnon from CompeteNetwork.com, Cooper argued that she hadn’t seen any science to back it up.
One study from the National Center for Biotechnology Information found that transgender people had no athletic advantage at any point in their transition.
Another study from the British Journal of Sports Medicine focused on the motivation that athletes might have to compete as another gender, finding transgender people “do not appear to be motivated by personal athletic gain.”
There have been several transgender athletes that met controversy based on their gender status.
MMA fighter Fallon Fox was criticized after breaking her opponents skull in a match, according to a report by The Verge. Those against her argue she had biological characteristics of a man. However, Dr. Eric Vilain, a medical geneticist and the director for the Institute of Society and Genetics at UCLA reviewed Fox’s medical records and confirmed she “fulfilled all conditions” that required of her competing, according to the New York Times.
Back in June of 2018, ABC News reported that a dispute began at a Connecticut high school, when two transgender students placed at the girls state championships.
One student-athlete said she thought it was unfair for the two to compete, reported ABC.
However, both of the transgender student athletes argued that their competitors should work harder, according to a report by Townhall, a conservative and political opinion website. The athletes cited that any two athletes could have differences, outside of being transgender.
States across the nation have different policies when it comes to high school competition. According to Transathlete.com, Connecticut is considered an inclusive state, where no medical hormones or surgery is required. Iowa and Illinois each require case-by-case review.
“I have nothing against any individual or any group but biological differences are important,” said Zuby in his interview with Shapiro, “we’ve known that they exist for millennia and so I don’t think in 2019 we should suddenly forget about that particularly when it comes to sport because there could be some very serious implications for women’s sport if that is allowed.”
“What Zuby did was disappointing because it mocks the trans experience and I think that Zuby has fans who are LGBT who are not going to want to be his fans,” said Ennis, “and he risks losing both LGBT and allies as fans.”