The twisted world of males playacting as women and competing in women’s sports competition categories continues to find its way to court.
Now, Anchorage-based USA Powerlifting, a national organization that hosts competitions around the country, has been ordered by a district judge to leave Minnesota, while a lawsuit proceeds that would force the competition organization to allow transgenders to compete in the women’s division.
Judge Patrick Diamond made the order despite the fact that the transgender who is suing the organization not requesting it.
JayCee Cooper, a transgender weightlifter, won a discrimination lawsuit earlier this year against USA Powerlifting, after being banned from competing in the women’s powerlifting division in Minnesota due to the fact he is a biological male. Judge Diamond has already indicated that he sides with Cooper in this dispute.
“The harm is in making a person pretend to be something different, the implicit message being that who they are is less than,” Judge Patrick C. Diamond in his earlier ruling in March, ordering the organization to immediately revise its policies.
“The USAPL’s evidence of competitive advantage does not take into account any competitive disadvantage a transgender athlete might face from, for example, increased risk of depression and suicide, lack of access to coaching and practice facilities, or other performance suppression common to transgender persons,” Diamond wrote in his March decision.
Now, with USA Powerlifting standing its ground, Diamond has banned the organization from the state while an appeal is under way.
The decision impacts the organization’s ability to host the Central and Midwest regionals May 27 and 28.
The case goes back to 2021. Cooper was born male and up until 2015 he participated in competitive sports as a male. He had been a member of the U.S. Junior National curling team and competed in the the World Junior Curling Championships in 2007. Cooper then changed his name from Joel to JayCee and started presenting as a female. In 2016, in his mid-20s, Cooper started competing in women’s roller derby, and in 2017 or 2018, he started powerlifting.
Cooper, now a 35-year-old Minneapolis transgender, filed the discrimination lawsuit in 2021 against USA Powerlifting, after the organization said Cooper could not compete in the women’s division.
“The judge acted solely on his own, and consistent with his prior stance in advocating for the plaintiff’s position. We believe the judge has misinterpreted Minnesota law in this regard and exceeded his authority in terms of the conduct of our service to our members. We will appeal this highly unusual ruling. However, while these proceedings play out, we are ordered to suspend competitions in Minnesota and cease selling memberships to Minnesota residents. We are investigating relocating Midwest Regionals and further information will be forthcoming,” the organization said through its President Dr. Larry Maile of Anchorage, a retired psychologist.
Maile says that studies show men have a 43% advantage over women in weightlifting. The study his group did looked at 17,000 appearances of powerlifters, and balanced out things like weight to come up with the statistic.
“That’s a concern for us,” he said. “And the question is, how do you normalize that and how do you make it fair in that circumstance. Our objective is to include everybody. But it’s not to include everybody in a way that’s unfair to one group. And so our decision that trans women can’t compete in the women’s division is based on data. We have offered several alternatives.”
Among those is the organization’s MX division, which provides a safe, inclusive option for athletes of all genders and gender identities to compete within USA Powerlifting.
A women’s group of athletes agrees with USA Powerlifting’s stance to protect women’s divisions in sports. The Independent Council on Women’s Sports (ICONS), a network of women athletes and supporters advocating for female-protected categories in sports, said “The sport of powerlifting has been destroyed for both men & women in MN. We applaud USA Powerlifting for its commitment to fighting this injustice & offer our support in this battle to #savewomenspowerlifting.”