Court Rules Men May Compete As Women In Powerlifting  

A Minnesota state court ruled that USA Powerlifting must permit biological men to compete as women in its industry.

In 2019, Powerlifter JayCee Cooper, a man who identifies as a woman, filed a complaint with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, stating that USA Powerlifting violated the state’s Human Rights Act by prohibiting him and other athletes from competing in the female division. 

Cooper then filed a lawsuit against the organization in 2021. 

“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,”  Cooper told KARE-TV.

“After years of experiencing discrimination from USA Powerlifting, and the backlash that has occurred due to that, of course, I have complex feelings about the sport,” Cooper said. “But I think that this win – [it] is a representation of where we can move forward.”

The ruling mandates USA Powerlifting to “cease and desist from all unfair discriminatory practices.” The organization has two weeks to revise its policy. 

USA Powerlifting president Larry Maile criticized the decision, noting that males have a particular advantage over females in powerlifting. 

“Our position has been aimed at balancing the needs of cis- and transgender women, whose capacities differ significantly in purely strength sports,” he said. 

“We have received a summary judgment decision from the Court finding us liable for discrimination. We respectfully disagree with the Court’s conclusions. We are considering all of our options, including appeal,” Maile added. 

In January 2023, World Athletics, the governing body of international track and field, announced a proposal to allow “transgender” individuals to compete based on their gender identity as long as they reduce their testosterone levels before competing. 

British shot putter Amelia Strickler criticized the proposal, saying transgender athletes had a clear advantage in her event. 

“The fact that World Athletics, one of the biggest, has not (put) its foot down, I think it is really, really upsetting,” Strickler told The Telegraph. “I am genuinely worried. This is my career.”

Some sporting institutions have opted to create separate divisions. 

In 2023, the Miami Marathon established a “non-binary” division for runners who do not identify as either male or female. 

“There’s a lot of things in my life where I need to register, and the options are male or female. I do it every day, and it’s annoying and frustrating. So, it’s nice when I have an option that actually matches my gender identity,” Calla Hummel, a professor at the University of Miami, told the Miami Herald.

According to the National Review, more than 200 race organizers offer “non-binary” divisions in the U.S.

Cooper reportedly placed third at the 2022 Powerlifting America (AMP) Classic Open Nationals in Texas and won the “women’s raw 198+ open.”


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