USA Powerlifting applauds appeals court decision after transgender woman claimed discrimination

A Minnesota appeals court struck down a previous ruling that claimed the USA Powerlifting organization violated a transgender woman’s rights by prohibiting the individual from joining the women’s team.

JayCee Cooper, a transgender woman, sued the organization in 2021 after being rejected from the women’s team in 2018. In the complaint, Cooper alleged the organization violated the Minnesota Human Rights Act, which protects discrimination against people “having or being perceived as having a self-image or identity not traditionally associated with one’s biological maleness or femaleness.”

A district court ruled last year that the organization discriminated against Cooper, then they appealed the decision. Cooper then cross-appealed, and on Monday, the Minnesota Court of Appeals decided the athletic league did not discriminate against the individual.

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“USA Powerlifting did not exclude JayCee Cooper because of her gender identity,” the organization’s lead attorney Ansis V. Viksnins told Fox News Digital in a statement. “USA Powerlifting excluded her from competing in the women’s division because of her physiology: she enjoys strength advantages over other women because she went through puberty as a man.”

“Maintaining separate categories based on sex, age, and weight is necessary so that similarly situated athletes have fair opportunities of success,” the statement continued. “Scientific studies show that athletes who have gone through male puberty enjoy a large strength advantage over athletes who go through puberty as a female. The scientific studies also show that suppressing testosterone only reduces the strength advantage by a very minimal amount. Because powerlifting is a strength sport, the strength differences between competitors are significant.Excluding male to female transgender powerlifters from the women’s division is necessary to maintain fairness and integrity in the sport.”

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Now, the case could continue being litigated in a lower court, or Cooper could raise it to the Supreme Court. Cooper’s attorney did not respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.

According to Judge Matthew Johnson’s lengthy opinion, the court concluded “that there are no genuine issues of material fact on Cooper’s claim of aiding and abetting discrimination and, accordingly, affirm the district court’s grant of summary judgment on that claim.”

Cooper participated in men’s sports before transitioning in her 20s and changing her name sometime between 2015 and 2016 when she was 28 years old, the court documents said. Cooper became a member of USA Powerlifting in 2018.

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Cooper asked the organization for permission to have an exemption to take spironolactone, a substance prescribed for gender dysphoria. After a couple of weeks of taking the prescription, estrogen is typically taken as part of the hormone transition to female.

“USAPL has satisfied its burden to produce evidence of a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason. Cooper’s female gender identity co-exists with her male physiology,” the opinion stated.

The appeals decision comes as transgender people in sports has become a hot button issue. Last week, 16 current and former female athletes filed a lawsuit against the NCAA, saying the organization’s transgender policy violates Title IX.

Jamie Joseph is a writer who covers politics. She leads Fox News Digital coverage of the Senate. 

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