Transgender powerlifter JayCee Cooper gets relief with a Minnesota court ruling. The USA Powerlifting (USAPL) had banned Cooper from competing in the Women’s division against cisgender female athletes. This was in line with the USAPL’s transgender athlete policy. It explicitly bans transgender athletes from competing against their cisgender counterparts.
“Through analysis of the impact of maturation in the presence of naturally occurring androgens at the level necessary for male development, significant advantages are had, including but not limited to increased body and muscle mass, bone density, bone structure, and connective tissue. These advantages are not eliminated by reduction of serum androgens such as testosterone yielding a potential advantage in strength sports such as powerlifting,” states the USAPL’s transgender athlete policy.
In response, Cooper filed a lawsuit against the USAPL in 2021 for violations of the Minnesota Human Rights Act. The Ramsey County District court has now ruled that the USAPL discriminated against Cooper when it banned her and also determined that the USAPL ‘must cease and desist from the unfair discriminatory practice of barring transgender female athletes from competing with other women’. The 46-page ruling by the court also states that the USAPL’s policy articulates nothing but discrimination based on protected status. The court has ordered USAPL to revise the policy within 14 days of the ruling.
Background of the JayCee Cooper vs USAPL case
JayCee Cooper received an email from USAPL before the 2019 Minnesota Women’s State Championships. The email stated that Cooper could not compete in the women’s division because she was a transgender female. She filed a discriminatory claim with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights. Cooper alleged that USAPL’s decision violated the Human Rights Act. Gender Justice, an advocacy group based in Minnesota took this claim to the state court. The court has now agreed that USAPL’s decision was discriminatory.
Transgender female athletes are natal males that undergo gender reassignment procedures to become female. They have the bone structure and density, musculature, and overall physical strength of a male. Therefore USAPL argued that their transgender policy comprises fair play. However, the Minnesota court ruling states that:
“USAPL’s evidence of competitive advantage does not take into account any competitive disadvantage a transgender athlete might face from, for example, increased risk of depression and suicide, lack of access to coaching and practice facilities, or other performance suppression common to transgender people.”
The court has also stated that the USAPL’s revised policy must comply with the Minnesota Human Rights Act. Fitness Volt will keep you updated with the story as it unfolds.