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USA Powerlifting must allow trans athletes in women's competitions, court rules

USA Powerlifting (WLUK)
USA Powerlifting (WLUK)
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A transgender athlete won a lawsuit against USA Powerlifting (USAPL), and a Minnesota court has subsequently ruled the sports organization must allow trans competitors in its women's divisions.

USAPL had banned trans athlete JayCee Cooper from competing in its women's competitions, which reportedly led to Cooper filing a complaint with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights in 2019 and a lawsuit in state court in 2021.

Cooper alleged USAPL violated Minnesota's Human Rights Act by banning her and other trans athletes from women's divisions. She told a local NBC-affiliated news station that she was "fed up" with the treatment she and others received as trans athletes.

I was fed up with the way that I was being treated; I was fed up with the way that my community was being treated, and enough was enough," Cooper said to KARE News. "I feel mostly relief. I think we needed a win here, and it feels good to get that."

USAPL is mandated to "cease and desist from all unfair discriminatory practices" in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity, according to a Ramsey County District Court ruling obtained by Fox News. The sports organization had two weeks to revise its policy on transgender athletes at the time of the ruling's release on Feb. 27.

The harm is in making a person pretend to be something different, the implicit message being that who they are is less than," the ruling says. "That is the very essence of separation and segregation, and it is what the MHRA prohibits."

USAPL will consider an appeal to the ruling, according to KARE News.

The sports organization's president, Lawrence J. Maile, reportedly said in a statement that USAPL's "position" on transgender athletes competing in women's sports "has been aimed at balancing the needs of cis- and transgender women" as their "capacities differ significantly in purely strength sports."

We have received a summary judgment decision from the Court finding us liable for discrimination. We respectfully disagree with the Court’s conclusions. We are considering all of our options, including appeal," Maile told KARE News.

The ruling comes at a time when many critics have voiced opposition to trans inclusion in women's sports, mostly due to concerns over fairness. Those concerns were perhaps at a peak when one transgender athlete, University of Pennsylvania's Lia Thomas, repeatedly dominated in competitions and spurred controversy.

Many critics have labeled Thomas's success in women's swimming as invalid and unfair. For example, Thomas is the first transgender woman to win an NCAA swimming championship.

In the United States, some lawmakers are drafting legislation that would prohibit transgender athletes from participating in women's sports. Some of those proposals are sitting in state legislatures, and some have been signed into law.

Former NFL Pro Bowler Marcellus Wiley recently said that he's speaking up for his daughters by speaking out against allowing transgender athletes to compete in women's sports.

Don’t make this a human rights issue – this is a biological issue. Simple as that. Trust me, I am a man," Wiley said in a video posted to his Instagram. "Like if I were me, Marcellus, and then tomorrow I’m Martha, I change up my gender, I’m now a woman, you know what I would try to do? Compete against the dudes. Why? Because that’s empowering."
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Wiley provided an example of the "biological issue" he was talking about by comparing the 100-meter dash world records for men and women. The women's record is 10.49 seconds set by American runner Florence "Flo-Jo" Delorez Griffith Joyner, Wiles says, but the men's record, set by Jamaican runner Usain Bolt, is almost a full second faster at 9.58.

Why use objective numbers? Because it’s pretty easy to digest. I hate saying fair. It’s not even right. Forget fair, it’s not right," Wiley concluded.
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