Court Rules Transgender Athletes Can Compete In Women’s Powerlifting

USA Powerlifting, the federation that oversees powerlifting competitions in the United States, lost a discrimination case against transgender athlete JayCee Cooper.

The Minnesota court ruling came after USA Powerlifting barred Cooper from competing in the female category. Cooper’s triumph has resulted in a directive for the federation to “stop all unjust discriminatory behaviors” based on gender identity and sexual orientation.

In 2019, Cooper was prevented from competing in a USA Powerlifting event because the federation claimed that her testosterone levels were higher than the average woman’s, giving her an unfair advantage over other female athletes. Cooper, who is transgender, argued that the federation’s policy was discriminatory and based on outdated views of gender.

Cooper’s case was taken up by the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, which filed a complaint against USA Powerlifting in June 2019. The case was heard by Judge Patrick Diamond, who was appointed to the bench by Democratic Governor Mark Dayton in 2012.

Diamond ruled in favor of transgender athlete JayCee Cooper saying, “By denying Cooper the right to participate in the female category, the category consistent with her self-identification, USAPL denied her the full and equal enjoyment of the services, support, and facilities USAPL offered its members,”

Diamond’s ruling went on to say, “It separated Cooper and segregated her and, in doing so, failed to fully perform the contractual obligations it agreed to when it accepted Cooper’s money and issued Cooper a membership card.”

The judge’s decision stated that USA Powerlifting’s policy violated Minnesota’s Human Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The judge also ordered the federation to “cease and desist from all unfair discriminatory practices” because of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Cooper expressed her satisfaction with the ruling, saying it was a “victory for inclusion and trans athletes everywhere.” She added that she hoped the ruling would encourage other sporting organizations to review their policies and practices with regard to transgender athletes.

The case has drawn attention to the issue of transgender athletes in sports and the debate over whether they should be allowed to compete in categories that correspond to their gender identity.

USA Powerlifting has not yet commented on the ruling, but the federation may appeal the decision.