USA Powerlifting Loses Lawsuit and Must Let Trans Athlete Compete in Female Events

The Maine Writer

In 2019, trans athlete Jaycee Cooper filed a discrimination claim against USA Powerlifting with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights through Gender Justice after USA Powerlifting banned Cooper and all other trans women athletes from competing in the USA Powerlifting women's competitions. In filing charges with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, Gender Justice said that USA Powerlifting violated the Minnesota Human Rights Act by banning Cooper, and all other trans women athletes from competing in women’s competitions. On behalf of Cooper, Gender Justice was seeking protection from discrimination and a clear, fair standard that allows trans athletes the opportunity to compete in the category of their gender identity.

According to the lawsuit, Cooper's birth certificate identifies her as a male. Cooper has been active in sports all of her life, playing soccer, tee ball, wrestling, track, and curling. Cooper legally changed her name from Joel to Jaycee in 2015 and then became involved in roller derby because of the trans-inclusive policy. After breaking her ankle in 2017, Cooper started powerlifting while recovering. In November 2018, Cooper bought an annual membership in USA Powerlifting to compete in competitions in Minnesota in 2019. In 2018, Cooper received an email from the USA Powerlifting Therapeutic Use Exemption Committee that said male-to-female transgenders are not allowed to compete as females in our static strength sport as it is a direct competitive advantage. Then, in 2021, Cooper filed a lawsuit against USA Powerlifting through Gender Justice over the decision to not allow Cooper to compete.

The ruling in the case said USA Powerlifting must "cease and desist from all unfair discriminatory practices" because of sexual orientation and gender identity. USA Powerlifting must revise its policy related to those issues within two weeks, which means trans athletes will be able to compete in the women's category after previously being banned from competition.

After the ruling, Cooper said, “Trans athletes across the country deserve the same rights and protections as everyone else, and we deserve equitable opportunities to compete in the sports we love.” “Trans women belong in women’s sports, and their right to compete is supported by Minnesota state law,” said Gender Justice lawyer Jess Braverman. “USA Powerlifting’s ban on transgender athletes is not only illegal but it’s also rooted in outdated gender stereotypes that harm all women athletes. Gender Justice will always work to make sure sports teams and federations value the rights and dignity of all women by fighting for trans women athletes’ right to compete.”

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