Disabled Girls Who Lift

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E02: Politics of Disabilities in Iron Sports

November 11th 2019

On episode two, Marybeth, Marcia and Chloe discuss why it’s problematic when able-bodied people write rules for differently-abled bodies.

The hosts share their personal experiences with fede... More

this is disabled girls who lift. We are reclaiming what's rightfully ours one podcast at a time, it's mary Beth Chloe and Marcia bringing you the thoughts and unpopular topics to get you out of that. A bliss comfort zone. Welcome listeners to our second episode of disabled girls who lift today. We are going to talk about the politics of disabilities and iron sports. So maybe you want to power lift, maybe you wanna wait lift body bill, do some strong man, you need some modification, your spoon. E you're missing an arm, whatever it is, let's talk about it. So I'm Marcia coming in from florida, I'm Chloe from Iowa. Hey, it's mary beth from California and the sports that I can cover really are only competitively would only be para lifting and olympic weightlifting. And I've only competed in two federations here in California. We have us A. P. L. And us P. A. Olympic weightlifting. We've got us a W so the ones that I've had the best interactions with on a federation level are you S.

P. A. They are one of the very first federations that are competed with as a full power. That's a squat the bench and the dead lift. And only recently have I started using different tools to compete with. So in the past, I don't know, I guess this is where Chloe and Marcia's saw me first, but A very impressive single handed dead lifter who was only 105 lbs, that's who I was. But it sucked up my body. So I stopped doing it. It's a terrible idea, but she looked really cool. Nobody knows the struggle or the pain and the ineptitude of single arms lifting. And I know some people do that and are allowed to do that when they are recently injured. Um but I'm looking into a more bilateral movement, a more efficient and safe movement and also movement where I can lift the most amount of weight because that's the kind of support that we're in.

Um so U. S. P. A. They've recently on their rule book put out a personal message for our special and disabled lifters it says so if if you were on the US pay rulebook on part 9.1 point one it says the U. S. P. A. Welcomes all lifters and will always do our very best at all times to accompany any special needs to request if there are any special request that a lifter may have, please contact us prior to the meat so we may assist to ensuring you're having a pleasurable meet powerlifting is a passion that should never be limited by one's own physical hurdles. Our staff is understanding and experience in this area and wants every lifter to feel both welcomed and appreciated at our meats. So that is one of the most the best messages I've ever heard on a magical even because one it's inclusive to its welcoming to those that are either new to the sport or knew the disc Federation and three, they're willing to do whatever it takes to accommodate you no matter what the disability is that being um, a syndrome.

Uh, you know, a physical disability, you being in a wheelchair. So many different things. And my experience with them has been absolutely great. In the beginning I did have to reach out to the um, Gordon Santy. He's in on the technical chair. I sent him some pictures. I just described what it is um, that I use, which is the harbinger hook and that allows me to just grip the bar on one side because I don't have fingers on my left hand to be able to do so mm hmm. Nothing else. That's all I used. And they were like, yeah, let's do it. And now they know who I am and I don't I don't need to do anything else. Whereas for other para listing federations and um, um, um, if you go on to the U C A P U C U S A P. L.

Website, I, you know, I try and look down their this disabilities tab. I think that's what it's called. I remember if it's just enabled athletes with disabilities, it says to be continued or it says coming soon and it said that for the last four years they haven't done anything to to provide resources for those that are interested in competing. However, I did do a little bit of research um, in the past and the rulebook really states nothing about people with disabilities in general. Um it's it's mostly for single lift bench press competitions because I guess they've probably seen someone who's paralyzed and had an amputated lower limb and they were able to compete on a bench just like in, you know in in the olympics or the special olympics where they have um paralympic bench testers.

So they've only really lived and wrote rules based on experience without having those necessary conversations with their athletes. And I've I've tried having those conversations with them and to know regards that they consider my lifting device. They actually got their lawyers on me and said that it would be a hazard to my hook, my lifting device hook which leaves my wrist nor does it fly off of the bar. Nothing like that. That it would be a risk to their coat there where they called the referees and their spotters. That makes sense. Um so I think able bodied rule makers are just fearful of us really just making it on top and you know, we'll talk about Chloe's records in a second but hey there, I don't know what it is. I don't know what it is. I can't speak on behalf of them but it has not been accommodating to say the least.

Um under usa pl I've actually fought so so hard and I continue to fight with other legal advisers to see how we can get more of us to compete with them. Um and then talk about Chloe's experiences with her powerlifting federation because I know she has a few in Iowa and also for my weightlifting. Yes. Um so I've started competing um in sanctioned meets back in 2014. My first federation that was accommodating to me was you P. A. That that's pretty much a midwestern um powerlifting federation. I don't know if you really see them so much out like on the west or east coast, we don't have them. No. Okay. Yeah so they've been great. Um So U. P. A. I've also competed with RPS Um they've been fantastic and um coming up let's see in the spring 2020 um W.

R. P. F. Is going to allow me to compete in um the current 2020 so that's great. Um I've also had good interactions with the U. S. P. A. Um Gordon? Santee was really nice to work with um he's the as mary Beth said he's the technical chairman. Um As far as federations that I have had um less than savory experiences with I guess the SPF um I inquired about competing at the november 2019 Slingshot Reebok record breakers and I got in touch with the SPF president, his name is Jessie Rogers. Um I emailed him explaining that I just would need a strap for dead lift.

He did not email me back so I had to get on facebook kind of track him down and was like, hey wow. Yeah, I was like, hey um did you get my email? You know, I'm wondering if I can compete because I'd like to sign up soon? He said, oh yeah, I emailed you back. I was like no, no, I didn't get an email back. So he's like okay, give me a call. So I called him on the phone and um he's very kind of abrasive in the way he talks honestly. Ah he wouldn't give me the time of day, he said, nope, he said carol Weston and I don't even know who Carol Weston is, but he said carol Weston and I already discussed you and no, like you can't compete in the open, you could do special olympics if you want, but you're not doing the open and yeah, I'm opting to not compete in the special olympics. I don't think that's a level playing field for me. Um so I did not pursue record breakers for for this reason. Yeah. And it's like so many levels to that you have to chase this guy down.

You had to talk him down so now and then on top of that you had to just get totally rejected like yeah and the way that he says that like, oh we spoke about your situation and absolutely no, did he provide reasons as to why can't you speak about you didn't speak about me about the situation. Yeah, yeah, it wasn't included in their conversation. They had a conversation about me and they decided no, that I can't compete in the open. It's very odd. Sorry, what was that? He did he say why? Instead he just provided that alternative for you? Um He didn't really say why and it kind of turned into like a weird conversation. I was like, well here's the other federations that allowed me to compete in the open. And then he started, he was like, well I don't care what other federations do. And it kind of got your like, it he like he was anti other federations and it was just not a productive conversation.

Um bizarre is very bizarre and that's that's a pretty thing right now. That's happening in power lifting. Like there are some very, very weird power dynamics happening amongst federations that like we're such a small sport like Yeah, it has grown in the last four years and you your members are growing and people are interested in it, but we are still so small and that we are not in the olympics yet. We are still trying to explain what powerlifting is weightlifting. No, it's not in the mainstream, it's not covered as well in mainstream media, but you guys continue this battle about who's better than the other and we can tell you as disabled athletes who we think are more Combinator ping and who are close minded but get off your fucking high horse and we've been supportive for as long as we can remember it is free, we pay for our and our membership fees and travel and lodging.

What the hell? And even then like sponsorships come at a very rare occasion and when they do it's hardly anything. Um But usa pl I actually got a very similar response Chloe in that um Well one usa pl wasn't responding for a very long time and they didn't allow me to compete in nationals because of because I guess it was the first time that that they've heard of somebody wanting to use a lifting hook or any device to accommodate them and lifting but I had to take it to the international level two I. P. F. And the first thing they did was like well we don't care about us. P. A. Well you can join special one thing. Yeah they sent me all of these links as if that was helpful to me but not considering like how much of a how bad of a denial that is to someone who has been competing in the open for a long time. Someone who has supported their federations and or is super excited about re block record breakers because they would compete with their friends you know or compete amongst others and potentially win a grand prize because those are pretty damn big prizes and special olympics is awesome but special olympics is not for everyone, it's for the intellectually disabled and there's you know it's a different playing field.

There's no reason that you should be able to go with the open like really. None. Yeah anyone. And sorry that I'm not sure. Um Me using a strap on my right hand for dead lift does not guarantee that I will not drop a dead lift. And I think that's kind of it goes over some people's heads. Um I can still drop a dead lift. My left hand can give out my right hand can still give out. Um It's it's not giving me an unfair advantage. Didn't somebody also asked for you to like post your videos or send your social media or something very intrusive. Did that happen? I let's see. We'll send me videos or I think I think when I started talking to U. S. P. A. For kern 2018 or I think that was 2018. Uh Gordon? He he wanted me to send pictures of my condition which yeah that that did feel a little intrusive.

Um But I guess I kind of understand why he needed to see that so he could understand why I needed the strap. Oh never mind. I thought you were talking about a federation that asked for social media. That would have been way out of line. Yeah I got the warden. Yeah but again their rule book is very vague and very general but also more inclusive than than what I've heard elsewhere. Um But that's the point That's what we're trying to get to. We're trying to get to a place where we don't have to ask for permission. We don't have to explain what we've been doing for the last, you know, how long you've been competing. You guys, I've been in it for a week, At least five years. Yeah. Like not, not that you should know who I am. You know, I'm not one of those who put themselves on a pedestal, but we shouldn't have to constantly send you pictures and constantly explain.

Like you should do your research. If you are on the technical chair, if you're on a board or any sort of committee that writes rules for these federations, it is your responsibility to be accommodating. I'm not going to tell you how to build a wheelchair ramp, you know, that it's anxiety inducing for me, anytime that I'm looking at, uh, going to maybe a meat out of state, um, knowing that I'm going to have to call the meet director and explain my situation. Um, so yeah, I agree with you. Like, yeah, that's a very bright itself because it's already shipped to try to find a gym where you feel okay listening and, you know, it's already a whole thing, but itself now you finally want to compete and you're like, I don't know, I gotta call this guy. Right, Right. And all the times they are a lot of the times the technical chair is not present at the meat. So on top of that, you have to explain yourself to the people checking in your equipment, the referees that are on this stage, like, like, oh, I thought you would have known because there was, it was such a big deal when we were talking about it via email that you would have been looped in since you were asking me what your bring your own brochure brochure kind of like, you know how, I don't know if you watch the new joker movie, but he carries around this card that explains his disability on why he has uncontrollable laughter.

Um well, it's not his responsibility. You know, people like it's just easier for him if they see him at the bus, just uncontrollably laughing that they understand that he has a disability. I feel like we need to like, I need to just carry that down or wear a parking sign or a shirt so that nobody can talk to me. So what, how is weight lifting? Is it any better? Yeah, so I've computed in one weight lifting me and that was the best experience I could have ever asked for their, I don't remember the guy's name, but he's actually the president of Usa w um my coach at the time just shot him an email and said, hey, I've got this lifter, she is competing in this meat and this is the, the device that she's looking to use and at that time it wasn't Harbinger, I actually used uh what is it called? Howling hooks because it has not only the hook, but it also has a strap attached to it so that it, the bar stays with me.

I mean even then develop, it was not strong enough, but it does what it can. Um And he didn't need to see pictures, he was like yeah go for it. Said look and that's it. You know like what about you, Marsha? Um Well in Strong man, I haven't had the need for adaptations or anything. I do just compete in the open, but the way that strongman is structured, it's very so there's like different federations or wherever you have N. A. S. You have U. S. S. Um There's like static monsters. Um There's official strongman games, but each of those things and each of those events, it's not a standard as powerlifting. So, you know, powerlifting meet you show up squat bench, dead lift, you know, exactly the order, whatever the federation is, you know exactly what's the bar you're going to use like strong and it's like, oh I'm going to host the event and we'll do, I don't know, log, farmers log and they just pick and choose and they tell you the weight, they tell you if it's an an mrap, they tell you if it's a max yeah, it's totally to the discretion of the person hosting the meat.

So if you're on the other end of it, and you don't want to compete in these able bodied competitions, you're kind of like, S O L. Because you're gonna have to, like, dig deep and search for the one meet director that is making competitions where there's like, adaptive divisions or seated um, activities, you know, the big federations have competitions, um, like, n A s that's usually at the Arnolds, there is an Arnold's disabled strongman. But you know, how do you get there, if you haven't been able to compete locally in your state, you're just like, you just show up at this giant competition and that's not ideal either. And even then you still have to do the same kind of thing, contact the people directing and say, hi, this is me, this is what I have, can I compete and they tell you yes or no, like, And so on top of that, they also have to ask the meet director what types of events they're planning on putting on for that date.

Yeah. So usually they'll post, they'll they'll post what the events are and depending on who runs it. Sometimes they posted, you know, way in advance. Sometimes they post it months in advance. Um, but you don't know what's going to happen, but unfortunately, you still might not be like the right kind of disabled for some of these events because I do know people that have been like, hi I have Ehlers Danlos and I'd like to do Arnold's the Arnolds event for the people with disabilities and they're like no, mm hmm. Like no, it's not gonna be safe for you, you can't compete here and that's actually happened to one of our friends crescendo, right? Yeah, yeah, that happened to cassandra and she, you know, she reached out, she took that extra step. She's already competing, she already has to deal with being in the gym and people just looking at her ducking and and all this other ship and she took that next step like, okay, I'm gonna ask this guy, can I compete? And it was a flat out? No, and it was the same kind of experience rude, like facebook arguments like very unprofessional and it's just like why it makes no sense for things like that to have to go there.

Like what, what is the actual problem? What are you upset about? Yeah. And what, why do we have to fight this battle? We're not we're not looking for special privileges. Were not looking for you to pay us? We're literally handing you our money and asking for a spot on your list. Yeah, and on top of that, what if you need to fill that slot anyway, Like why not me? What makes that person better than me to compete in your meat? Yeah, so I'm not sure where the future of that is going, I know that locally, every state, you know, every state has different people that usually run their meats. So like for me in florida, you know I'm going around and asking different directors like what we can do to have more adaptive events and we'll see how that goes. But if you don't have that already or if you're not able to help that process go along then you're just like okay shit out of luck never mind. I'm not really sure where where it's either you have it or you don't.

Unfortunately there's also um I forgot the way they phrased it like America's strongest athletes with disabilities something like that. It's another strongman event and I'm not sure if it's uss exactly because it's run by somebody heard of that. Yeah. Yeah it's run by chris boccaccio who I've seen at USS events but I'm not sure if this is actually a U. S. S. Event. So so far I've heard that competition is a little more accepting and not as much of an argument to get into. But again if you want to try something before you get there, I don't know it's strong man is a very open sport and honestly people have the freedom to be inclusive but it does take work and it will take work because you have to think of okay if I'm gonna do a log press for the able body, what am I gonna do for someone that needs to sit and you're gonna have to take that extra time and figure it out and I don't know if people are afraid to do it or if they don't want to do it or maybe they don't think anybody will show up.

Like I'm not sure. Yeah, so it's called America's strongest disabled athletes that I see on some of the championship belts that they give out, It's so cute. And then at the top of the belt, it says men seated champion and then on the right it says strongman is for everyone. So that that itself is just so inclusive and the partners that they receive um are unbelievable. Yeah, that's how it should be and I know that, I mean that's strong man, I know that crossfit has a little more, you know, there's like wheel wad, even if you go to water pollution, you'll see the adaptive divisions. So you know, it's possible, it's not like this is something we can't show up in and we can't participate in. It just, it just requires like a little little extra effort. Yeah. And what they love using are the words liability and like everyone who competes in strongman or powerlifting or weightlifting is a liability because we're pushing or pulling three times the amount of weight that is our body weight.

Anyone, anyone could dump a bar when they're squatting anybody could drop a log, press on their head like a couple of weight on their foot, like loaded Know anyone loading the weight can drop as much as 50 kg on somebody's foot of clip can fly across the room, projectile vomiting has happened Strongest man. I think like three dudes tore their achilles the first day. Like it's yeah, knee wraps, you know, knee wraps sometimes ripped off or um, what's that full body suit called? And um, but like how the equipped lifters? Yeah. How many, how many of those videos have we all watched where somebody squats and like their quad ruptures and they fall? I don't personally, I can't stand this video. Exactly. I think that this is going to happen anytime a disabled athlete goes onto the stage. It's just this is everybody.

If you're talking liability, you're talking athlete and we are signing that same form, That same waiver. What the funk is the fear. We're not asking for an ambulance or anything to be um, you know, close by. But if you want to provide that for all of your athletes, why not? Yeah, it's it shouldn't really be that complicated. It should really be that simple and it's interesting that it has to be such a fight. But it is, I mean, even for a strong man, I'm not sure the history of other sports. You know, it started out with mostly just men. This is how it started. So women competing is new. So maybe the new trend will be people with disabilities will be totally normal to God. And we say all in quotations. When we say right kind of disabled in quotations, we say trend in quotations because it should just be the norm. Exactly.

But this is uh this real life, real life ship. That's how it happens. So here we are. And then bodybuilding, did we talk about that? I know there's wheelchair bodybuilding. I know um um there's a guy on instagram called Adele foes Kitchen. He's been competitively a wheelchair bodybuilder for a very long time. He has an impressive physique and on top of that he even dances salsa and other dance competitively. It's just amazing. Um What's out there, What I like about the bodybuilding too is that they have like, you know how we went on the U. S. A. P. O. It's like the page says to be continued, There's no information if you want to do strongman adapt this stuff like you really have to dig and dig on the internet. You have to find somebody asked them like, but for the bodybuilding it's literally like wheelchair bodybuilding dot com and you go on the page and it's like, oh do you want to do this? This is what you have to do easy. And even if you're not a wheelchair user, I have, well we actually have reposted some bodybuilder um women who have competed with an amputation or a prosthetic limb.

They have. I was wondering about that, which I'll look into it more and I'll see if we can get her on this show. But it's pretty damn awesome. Yeah, That'd be cool. Great. And a lot of what we have been competing in and the federation's that we mentioned are are very different from each other and they're also very different from, um, the subject of adaptive sports and what's available there. Obviously, there are lots of paralympic multi sport events. Um, that includes power lifting, I think. I don't know if it includes full power, but it definitely includes the bench press. Um, and then it says that weightlifting was discontinued. Do we know anything about that? Yeah, There's no weight lifting in paralympics or it's just power lifting. I wonder if look into that a little bit. And then special olympics has their World Games and that's that's governed by the IOC.

Um, and mostly for, like we mentioned before for athletes with intellectual disabilities. And again, that includes powerlifting, but not weightlifting. And then Highland Games, they have a para chair, adaptive highland Games. So, again, um, paralyzed folks in wheelchairs, but there isn't much information. So if any of you who are listening that are are um, either competing in those other federations or in these other sports and want to highlight it a little bit more. We invite you to contact us and get you on the show. Yes, definitely. It's a conversation that needs to be had will be had. It's going to be stuffed down your throat I'm not letting this rest. Not my throat. Yeah. And, and I guess to conclude on this, like what what is important to us, people who are looking to compete in either new federations or new sports?

Is it the verb ege or the language that's used in the rule book? What are we working towards? Are we working towards being inclusive? Being equitable? Just checking off a box. Like I don't even think wherever they host um local or national meets, do they even check to see if there are wheelchair ramps or spaces for discipline? For wheelchairs? You know what I mean? Not really in the way they set up the seats and the chairs and it's crowded and it's it's not accessible at all. Yeah, we go into these really small gyms and like Yeah, a lot of the times these sports were made out of backyard garage gems, but we have to consider our athletes with disabilities and our patrons with disabilities and make it inclusive and comfortable, agreed. Yeah. Alright, disabled girls out. Thanks for listening to disabled girls who lift. Don't forget to follow right and like us on Spotify itunes and player FM.

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E02: Politics of Disabilities in Iron Sports
E02: Politics of Disabilities in Iron Sports
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