USA Powerlifting Must Permit Man to Compete Against Women

USA Powerlifting, a federation that organizes weightlifting competitions, has been ordered by a Minnesota judge to allow competitors born as men but who now claim to be women to compete against biological women. The ruling came after biologically-male transgender weightlifter JayCee Cooper filed a lawsuit alleging that the organization had violated the Minnesota Human Rights Act.

That state law maintains that Cooper can compete under his “chosen gender.” Cooper had been sending demanding letters and suing the sport since 2019 after the sports authority denied his bid to compete as a woman.

Cooper claims to have transitioned into a woman in 2014. He said he takes an anti-androgen drug that substantially decreases testosterone in his body. Cooper believes this would allow him to compete as a woman under Olympics rules. Therefore, he argues that should also be good enough for USA Powerlifting. Cooper also argued that keeping him from competing under his “chosen gender” violated the Minnesota Human Rights Act.

Minnesota state court Judge Patrick Diamond ruled in favor of Cooper’s attack on USA Powerlifting’s ban on transgender women, stating that by denying Cooper entry into the female category consistent with his self-identification, the organization had separated and segregated Cooper unlawfully.

Diamond also cited the “increased risk of depression and suicide, lack of access to coaching and practice facilities, or other performance suppression common to transgender persons as competitive disadvantages” for transgender athletes.

The judge gave USA Powerlifting two weeks to change their policies concerning transgender contestants. The organization must terminate all “unfair discriminatory practices related to sexual orientation and gender identity.”

Cooper initially filed a complaint in 2019 with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights. He alleged that the organization violated the state’s Human Rights Act by banning him and other trans athletes from competing in female competitions.

Regarding the win in court, Cooper said, “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.”

USA Powerlifting is considering an appeal of the decision, according to the organization’s President, Larry Maile. He said, “Our position has been aimed at balancing the needs of cis- and transgender women whose capacities differ significantly in purely strength sports.”