The LGBT International Powerlifting Championships has introduced a new category specifically for trans and intersex athletes, who often face discrimination in the sport.

The LGBT International Powerlifting Championships (IPC), now in its second year, is hosted by the LGBT Powerlifting Union. In an effort to encourage members of the transgender, nonbinary and intersex communities to participate in powerlifting and the wider world of competitive strength sports in general, they’re giving athletes the option of competing in a new, third gender “Mx Category” in 2018.

“We aim to be as inclusive as possible by equalizing all weight classes and offering the new third gender Mx category,” Chris Morgan, a nine-time world champion and co-president of the LGBT Powerlifting Union, said in a press statement.

The announcement follows a recent controversy over the addition of out trans weightlifter Laurel Hubbard to New Zealand’s Commonwealth Games team. Several team members and prominent weightlifters told media outlets they believe trans women who lift weights have an “unfair advantage.”

“We have seen a great deal of adverse reaction recently to media reports of transgender athletes competing in strength sports,” said Professor Ardel Thomas, a nonbinary member of the LGBT Powerlifting Union in a press statement. “We are aware of new and novice trans, nonbinary and intersex lifters are concerned about participating in sports because of lack of understanding, and therefore we have decided to offer an optional Mx Category at LGBT IPC 2018.”

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The organizers believe they’re the first international sporting event in the world to create a gender-neutral category aimed at encouraging participation from trans and nonbinary athletes.

“Issues affecting transgender, nonbinary and intersex participants were discussed in detail at our congress in 2017, and we decided as a group to make our event as inclusive and as a safe as possible by offering an optional MX category,” said Charlotte Wareing, seven-time powerlifting world champion and co-president of the LGBT Powerlifting Union. “Athletes from within the trans, non-binary and intersex communities are very welcome to participate within LGBT IPC without any fear of discrimination.”

The 2018 LGBT International Powerlifting Championships will take place in London July 27-29.

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