USA Powerlifting must allow transgender athletes to compete in the women's division, after a trans-identifying male won a discrimination lawsuit this week after the sports federation attempted to bar male lifters from female competitions.
As reported by Fox News, JayCee Cooper, who identifies as a transgender woman, won a discrimination case in which the court demanded USA Powerlifting to “cease and desist from all unfair discriminatory practices” due to gender identity. To remain within accordance with the law, the powerlifting body must adopt a new policy to allow trans athletes in the women's division within two weeks.
The complaint, filed by Cooper in 2019 with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, accused the athletic organization of violating human rights for its prohibition on male athletes in women's divisions. According to the trans activist, this violated the state's Human Rights Act.
In 2021, Cooper filed a lawsuit in Ramsey County.
In its decision, the court cited “increased risk of depression and suicide, lack of access to coaching and practice facilities, or other performance suppression common to transgender persons,” as reasons why transgender athletes may actually have a disadvantage to woman athletes, despite the biological size and strength differences.
“The harm is in making a person pretend to be something different, the implicit message being that who they are is less than,” the ruling stated. “That is the very essence of separation and segregation, and it is what the MHRA prohibits.”
“I was fed up with the way that I was being treated; I was fed up with the way that my community was being treated, and enough was enough,” Cooper told KARE-TV of the lawsuit victory.
“I feel mostly relief. I think we needed a win here, and it feels good to get that,” the lifter continued, adding, “After years of experiencing discrimination from USA Powerlifting, and the backlash that has occurred due to that, of course I have complex feelings about the sport. But I think that this win – [it] is a representation of where we can move forward.”
According to Cooper's Twitter bio, Cooper is a two-time national champion. The activist has also called for Minnesota to become a trans “refugee” state, to allow minors to undergo irreversible medicalized gender transitions.
In a statement on the court decisions, USA Powerlifting President Lawrence Maile said he has been trying to “balance” the needs of biological women and trans-identifying males, though they are considering an appeal.
“USA Powerlifting has been involved in litigation in Minnesota involving participation of transgender women in competitive powerlifting. Our position has been aimed at balancing the needs of cis- and transgender women, whose capacities differ significantly in purely strength sports. We have received a summary judgment decision from the Court finding us liable for discrimination. We respectfully disagree with the Court’s conclusions. We are considering all of our options, including appeal.”