A trans woman is suing America’s premier powerlifting federation for discrimination after she was banned from competing on the basis of her gender identity.
JayCee Cooper, 33, accuses USA Powerlifting (USAPL) of violating the Minnesota Human Rights Act by preventing her from competing as a trans athlete.
She’s backed by the Minnesota-based advocacy group Gender Justice, whose lawsuit points out that many other sports organisations have established rules for trans women to be included.
“USAPL denied Ms Cooper’s eligibility to compete because she is a transgender woman, withdrew her competition card because she is a transgender woman, and then went on to adopt a categorical ban on participation by transgender women athletes at USAPL competitions,” the lawsuit stated.
Cooper was informed by USAPL in 2018 that she was ineligible to compete because “[trans women] are not allowed to compete as females in our static strength sport as it is a direct competitive advantage”.
This is despite the fact that Cooper takes an anti-androgen drug that’s kept her testosterone levels within International Olympic Committee guidelines for the past two years, and she had documentation to prove it.
The USAPL’s parent organisation, the International Powerlifting Federation, has approved the IOC’s rules but does not enforce them.
Cooper’s sustained testosterone levels should more than qualify her for eligibility in the women’s superheavyweight division, she says, calling the “unacceptable” ban a “blatantly transphobic policy”.
“It came as a surprise to me that when I applied to compete at my first competition, I was told that I couldn’t compete specifically because I’m a trans woman,” she said in a statement.
“I was gutted. I had been training for months and up until that point had experienced so much love and community around the sport.”
She continued: “Trans athletes across the country deserve the same rights and protections as everyone else, and we deserve equitable opportunities to compete in the sports we love.”
In a statement to NBC, USA Powerlifting said it is “aware of the public notice made on the Gender Justice website but are not in receipt of any formal filing at this time. We dispute the allegations and look forward to the opportunity to present the facts within the legal system”.
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