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Update: Advocacy Group Lodges Formal Discrimination Complaint Against USA Powerlifting

This is in response to the ban of transgender powerlifter JayCee Cooper back in January.

Barbell and Kettle-bell casting a shadow
Eric Nelson

Update: On June 17, USA Powerlifting President Larry Maile sent Muscle & Fitness the USAPL's official response to Gender Justice's formal complaint against them. The USAPL refutes the claims that they are being discriminatory and refers to this as a "mischaracterization." 

The statement went on to say, "It is a further inaccurate to describe USA Powerlifting as banning transgender athletes. Our rules state that divisions are based on sex, and that analysis of scientific data reflects the inherent differences in strength in powerlifting, between biological males (XY) and biological females (XX). This difference is so significant that reduction of androgens does not, and cannot overcome these differences. To allow those born and who went through puberty as males to compete as females would be inherently discriminatory against a federally protected class: women. Further, allowing transgender males to use androgens when no other category of athlete is allowed them represents an unfair advantage and against the founding principles of USA Powerlifting. Accordingly, transgender women are allowed to compete in the division reflecting their birth, and transgender men may compete without androgens."

You can read the full statement here

Original Story: Advocacy group Gender Justice has lodged a formal discrimination complaint against USA Powerlifting with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, Outsports reports.

The complaint is in protest of the USAPL’s January decision to ban transgender woman JayCee Cooper from competing in Minnesota’s State Bench Press Championships. After the ban, U.S. Rep. IIhan Omar (D-MN) wrote an open letter to the USAPL, urging it to follow in the footsteps of the International Olympic Committee, which allows transgender women to participate in competitions as long as their testosterone levels are at a certain level. Then, the Movement, a Minnesota powerlifting gym, openly protested the Minnesota State Championships by timing out their lifts.

On May 9, the USAPL had a national board of governors meeting where a proposed policy to allow transgender women to compete was heavily rejected by a 46-4 vote. Now, Gender Justice, a Minnesota-based non-profit that advocates for gender equality, has asserted that Cooper was illegally discriminated against in its complaint. Cooper released the following statement, published in the press release.

 


 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE *** USA Powerlifting Charged With Gender Discrimination Under Minnesota Law *** (St. Paul, Minn.) In a new filing with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR), Gender Justice asserts that USA Powerlifting illegally discriminated against JayCee Cooper based on her gender identity. *** Cooper, an amateur powerlifter and transgender woman, was blocked by USA Powerlifting from competing in Minnesota’s State Bench Press Championship in January, 2019. Like other athletes, she worked to ensure that she met the stated policies for competition, and went above and beyond by addressing any potential questions about her gender identity, only to have USA Powerlifting respond with a new, retroactive blanket ban on transgender athletes. As the sport’s governing body for the United States, USA Powerlifting’s rigid policy effectively excludes Cooper - and athletes like her - from any meaningful competition. *** “As a powerlifter and a transgender person, I’m no stranger to a challenge,” says Cooper. “I’ve jumped through all the hoops, trying to meet USA Powerlifting’s arbitrary and subjective standards, just to have them respond with an outright ban on transgender women in competitions. At some point you have to say enough is enough. Trans rights are human rights. Trans athletes are supported in our right to compete by the International Olympic Committee, the International Powerlifting Federation’s Executive Committee, federal and Minnesota state law. USA Powerlifting’s blanket ban violates not just the law, but the very spirit of sports.” *** Today’s MDHR filing asserts that USA Powerlifting discriminated against Cooper in public accommodations on the basis of gender identity, in violation of the Minnesota Human Rights Act. On behalf of Cooper and others, Gender Justice is seeking protection from discrimination, and a clear, fair standard that allows trans athletes the opportunity to compete. *** More at www.genderjustice.us *** #whyicompete #sharetheplatform #sportisahumanright

A post shared by JayCee Cooper (@jayceeisalive) on

 

"As a powerlifter and a transgender person, I’m no stranger to a challenge,” says Cooper. “I’ve jumped through all the hoops, trying to meet USA Powerlifting’s arbitrary and subjective standards, just to have them respond with an outright ban on transgender women in competitions. At some point, you have to say enough is enough. Trans rights are human rights. Trans athletes are supported in our right to compete by the International Olympic Committee, the International Powerlifting Federation’s Executive Committee, federal and Minnesota state law. USA Powerlifting’s blanket ban violates not just the law, but the very spirit of sports.”  

In its statement, Gender Justice claims that USA Powerlifting violated the Minnesota Human Rights Acts, and are therefore taking action on Cooper's behalf. 

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