JayCee Cooper, a transgender athlete, won a discrimination case against USA Powerlifting this week after the federation banned her from competing in women’s events.
With Cooper’s victory comes a mandate to the federation to «cease and desist all unfair discriminatory practices» based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
The organization is due to revise its policy related to those issues within two weeks, which means that trans athletes will be able to compete in the women’s category after being previously banned.
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Cooper filed a complaint in 2019 with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, alleging that the organization violated the state’s Human Rights Law by barring her and other trans athletes from competing in women’s competition.
He then filed a lawsuit against USA Powerlifting in state court in 2021.
«I was fed up with the way they treated me; I was fed up with the way they treated my community, and enough is enough,» Cooper told KARE-TV.
«I’m mostly relieved. I think we needed a win here, and it feels good to get that.»
«The harm is in making a person pretend to be something different, the implicit message is that who they are is less than.» said the ruling. «That is the very essence of separation and segregation, and it is what the MHRA prohibits.»
USA Powerlifting will consider an appeal.
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“Our position has been aimed at balancing the needs of cis and transgender women whose abilities differ significantly in pure strength sports,” USA Powerlifting President Larry Maile said in a statement.
However, the court cited «an increased risk of depression and suicide, lack of access to training and practice facilities, or other suppression of performance common to transgender individuals» as competitive disadvantages for transgender competitors.
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According to Open Powerlifting, Cooper last competed at the 2022 AMP Classic Open Nationals in Texas, where he finished third out of three competitors in his division.
Cooper competed twice against a lone competitor, Rebecca Richnofsky, in the raw women’s 198+ open category in 2019, winning both times. At the 2019 USPA National Championships, she finished fourth out of four competitors in that category.