USA Powerlifting Agrees to Mediate Dispute With Trans Athlete

JayCee Cooper, a trans pro powerlifter, has been embroiled in a nondiscrimination lawsuit with the group since June.

The country’s national governing federation for powerlifting has agreed to negotiate with a transgender athlete suing the organization for discrimination.

JayCee Cooper, a transgender woman, will sit down with USA Powerlifting, after the group agreed to mediation in Cooper’s lawsuit. The suit, filed under with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR), dates back to June.

The Minneapolis resident has been barred from competing with USA Powerlifting, even though she met the International Olympic Committee (IOC) standards for transgender women on hormone replacement therapy, or HRT.

Minnesota has had gender identity nondiscrimination protections on the books since 1993. Those may be at odds with the strict rules USA Powerlifting maintains, which effectively ban most transgender people from competing. According to the organization’s regulations, trans women and others assigned male at birth must compete with men. Competitors taking testosterone are barred from competition, even if those competitors are transgender men.

Lawrence Maile, president of USA Powerlifting, says the policy was implemented after an extensive study. In Cooper’s case, however, the exclusion has prevented her from competing to get to the World Games.

“Competing in sports has been one of the only consistencies in my life, and it’s such an important piece of my identity,” the powerlifter previously told NewNowNext. “Having someone take away something that has given you so much is incredibly painful.”

Gender Justice Legal Director Jess Braverman, who is representing Cooper, says that USA Powerlifting’s policy puts it out of step with numerous sports organizations that embrace trans athletes.

“Gender Justice believes firmly that JayCee Cooper and all transgender athletes should have an equal opportunity to compete in the sports they love,” Braverman said in a statement. “We welcome this opportunity to meet with MDHR to discuss basic fairness, equality and inclusion in sports.”

Kate Sosin is an award-winning, trans-identified news and investigative reporter.