Photo of Author/Atlanta, Georgia

Powerlifting is the Gender Neutral Ground We All Need

Why would gender(or sex) matter when it comes to passion?

Zackary Henson
4 min readMay 30, 2022


I’m two days back from USPA nationals…

I’m tired; mentally and physically exhausted.

And it was all worth it.

Powerlifting didn’t truly start until 2017 for me. It was the glue that held together a broken heart just long enough for it to start mending itself. It was just enough that I could start to see clearly once again through the fog of broken-heart syndrome.

Since then, the sport itself has been far more than a sport. It’s been a lifestyle. I think where we can get confused sometimes though as driven humans, is thinking that passion means you’ll love your life everyday. You won’t. Whether you’re living your dream life, or still working on getting it. You’re not always going to love the work and you’re not always going to love your outcomes. Even as writer here on Medium, rarely do we have the days that have perfect flow.

What makes passion a passion…is that for whatever universal reason, you can’t see yourself not having it. Sometimes it means something that you can’t even explain to yourself.

And you don’t have to. It just…exists.

What I do know, is that powerlifting is shared across a huge group of people that are all after the same thing: proof of their own strength.

The thing about this sport and others like Oly lifting, track and field, and a lot of other individual competitor sports, is that the largest and most crucial factor to your success is you. It’s how well you’ve trained, eaten, slept, recovered and visualized what you do. The only things that challenge you are the objects of time, distance, weight and so on…

For powerlifting, the weight on the bar isn’t bias. It stands as the same adversary for everyone that approaches it. It’s cold, it’s heavy, it’s dense, and it doesn’t give a fuck who you are, what you represent or how you see the world…and if you’re going to challenge it, no other thing will matter besides if you have the strength to move it.

May 26th-31st 2022

USPA Nationals in Atlanta, Georgia

The only thing between you and a national event is a qualifying total legitimized by a previous sanctioned event within required timelines.

Classification: weight class, sex, and age

Photo of Author/Atlanta, Georgia

When you show up here, nothing else matters; not what you do, not where you’re from, not whether you’re male or female, whether you identify as something else(it would matter for classification to compete), your sexual orientation, your religious beliefs, or anything else.

Nothing matters, except for the shared love for testing personal strength and mental resilience.

Some of the most physically strong women are powerlifters. Some of the most physically strong men are powerlifters. There are no gender roles or expectations here. It’s all a love for the same purpose and passion. Muscles are everywhere, tattoos, body types, abilities, colors. It is a place that encompasses and welcomes all the people who just want to be an icon of strength.

Personally, I think strong and muscular women are hot. Women who live against a rusty gender normative perspective show authenticity, passion, confidence and truth. What’s more attractive than that?!

Our issues with gender aren’t about having “not enough” of one or the other sex in certain careers or lifestyles…

Our fucking problem is thinking that numbers and facts and statistics prove suppression of gender or sex. Just because paper says so, doesn’t mean its true. Complexity lies in personal values, type of intelligence(yes, there’s more than one), and personal desire. Statistics could show tendencies more than suppression for all we know…yet we take a pedestal and attack, attack, attack.

And our answer to the fucking problem is in passion. The healing and the remedy of it is about open-mindedness, promoting and supporting authenticity, and inspiring others to be passionate about their lives and show them that they’re strong enough to personally say ‘fuck you’ to anyone who tries to fence them into a gender role or any other societal norm.

“Normal” gives a general sense of where most individuals think alike, behave alike or share similar values…but it doesn’t mean the outliers are actually wrong or misguided. Normal is a core. It’s a density that gives us a gravitational center. But that gravity has a very far reach. It allows different speeds of life, other groups of centers of gravity, other builds.

I think I’m getting off track…

My point is that something like the sport of powerlifting is built around the gravitational pull of passion. One idea. One shared purpose. Gender doesn’t matter. So many things don’t matter. And as we gather in one place all trying to overcome the same thing, there’s nothing but love and support to overcome that shared challenge.

Powerlifting is about as gender neutralizing as they come. And we could all use a little more passion, and a little less focus on the things that really don’t fucking matter.

Sounds rebel minded to me…

Photo of Author and UDBC teammates



Zackary Henson

Writer who questions everything. Self, Behavior, Perspective, Connection. Truth and love.