Trans athlete JayCee Cooper trained to compete for the USA Powerlifting Minnesota State Bench Press Championship and Minnesota Women’s State Championship. When she submitted her application, she included a therapeutic use exemption seeking to allow her to be on hormones to treat her gender dysphoria, along with letters from her health care providers.
Cooper heard back from USA Powerlifting that she would not be allowed to participate in competitions designated for women, because as someone who had previously undergone male puberty, she enjoyed an unfair competitive advantage over cisgender female competitors.
In turn JayCee filed a discrimination claim with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, alleging that Powerlifting USA’s policy violated prohibitions against LGBTQ protections contained in the Minnesota Human Rights Act.
In the lawsuit, filed in January 2021, Cooper argued that the policy prohibiting transgender athletes from competing discriminated against them based on their gender identity. And won.
In a ruling earlier this week, Judge Patrick Diamond ruled that USA Powerlifting had discriminated against Cooper on the basis of sex and sexual orientation, and ordered USA Powerlifting to submit a revised policy within the next 14 days.
“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, 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”
USA Powerlifting President Larry Maile said in a statement that his organization disagrees with the court’s decision, and will be exploring all its options, including a possible appeal.
“Our position has been aimed at balancing the needs of cis- and transgender women, whose capacities differ significantly in purely strength sports,” Maile said. “We respectfully disagree with the Court’s conclusions.”