USA Powerlifting is being forced to include biological men who identify as women in the women’s divisions of their competitions after losing an anti-discrimination lawsuit last week.
A Minnesota state court ruled the organization must revise its policy within two weeks and allow trans-identifying men to compete in the women’s categories, per Fox News. They are being called to “cease and desist from all unfair discriminatory practices,” which in this case means limiting inclusion based on gender identity.
“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 in part. “That is the very essence of separation and segregation, and it is what the [Minnesota Human Rights Act] prohibits.”
The original complaint was filed in 2019 by JayCee Cooper, a trans-identifying man who accused the organization of violating the state’s Human Rights Act by barring men from female competitions. Cooper filed a lawsuit against USA Powerlifting in state court in 2021, the publication noted.
“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.
The athlete responded to the verdict, saying, “I feel mostly relief. I think we needed a win here, and it feels good to get that.”
USA Powerlifting may appeal this decision. “Our position has been aimed at balancing the needs of cis- and transgender women whose capacities differ significantly in purely strength sports,” the organization’s president, Larry Maile, said in a statement.
“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 continued.
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This transgender sports issue has been a hot topic for years. One of the most headline-making cases involved University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas, a trans-identifying man who smashed records while competing in the women’s division.
Swimming and powerlifting are not the only sports to experience controversy. How and when to include trans-identifying athletes has been discussed in relation to surfing, cycling, basketball, running, track and field, ice skating, and a whole host of other sports.
While most organizations seem reluctant to create new leagues for trans-identifying individuals, it is happening in the world of boxing. World Boxing Council officials said in December that the international professional prizefighting organization would create a new category for transgender fighters in 2023.