SAINT PAUL, MN – As a result of an anti-discrimination lawsuit filed against the organization, a Minnesota state court ruled last week that USA Powerlifting must allow transgender athletes – biological men who identify as women – to compete against biological women in their competitions going forward.
USA Powerlifting are mandated to “cease and desist from all unfair discriminatory practices,” based on gender identity, as per the ruling in the case.
“The harm is in making a person pretend to be something different, the implicit message being that who they are is less than,” the ruling says. “That is the very essence of separation and segregation, and it is what the [Minnesota Human Rights Act] prohibits.”
JayCee Cooper, a 35-year-old Minneapolis a trans-identifying man, filed a discrimination lawsuit against USA Powerlifting in 2021 after the organization denied them from competing in women’s competitions.
“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 said. “I feel mostly relief. I think we needed a win here, and it feels good to get that.”
However, USA Powerlifting is considering an appeal to the ruling, according to the organization’s president, Larry Maile.
“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.”
The ruling comes as the issue of transgender athletes competing in women’s sports has become a hot-button topic. Most recently, controversial University of Pennsylvania women’s swim team member Lia Thomas had competed on the men’s swimming team for three years before transitioning to female and joining the women’s team; at that point – despite only ranking in the mid-500s as a man – Thomas proceeded to shatter multiple records as a woman and quickly shot to a number one ranking, igniting a national debate about the fairness of trans athletes competing with biological females.