Transgender women can now compete in USA Powerlifting after a court ruled in favor of athlete Jesse Cooper, who filed a discrimination lawsuit against the federation after being banned from competing in women’s events.
USA Powerlifting must revise its existing policy regarding trans women in its events by next Monday — two weeks after the initial ruling. CBS News has reached out to USA Powerlifting for a statement, but has not yet heard back.
Judge Patrick C. “Harm is to make a person pretend to be something different, the underlying message being that they are less than who they are,” Diamond wrote in the ruling.
The judge also wrote that while the USAPL’s decision to bar trans women from competition focused on the concept of “fairness,” citing an unfair advantage, “the USAPL’s evidence of competitive advantage does not consider any competitive disadvantage a transgender athlete might face. For example, from increased risk of depression and suicide, lack of access to coaching and practice facilities, or other performance suppression common to transgender individuals.”
The lawsuit was filed in Ramsey County District Court in St. Paul, Minnesota in January 2021, after Cooper was denied entry into a USA Powerlifting competition based on his gender identity. The USAPL later instituted a policy banning all transgender women from competition.
On February 27, a judge ruled in Cooper’s favor and found USA Powerlifting guilty of discriminating against him.
In light of the decision, Cooper posted a graphic with a caption that read “We win!” On her Instagram, followers were directed to a link in her bio that led to a statement from Gender Justice, a Minnesota-based organization that fights for gender equality in the United States.
It takes courage and strength to fight for what is right. @JayCeeIsAlive is both brave and strong. He is also a winner! We are honored to fight alongside him. Hear her story in the latest episode of Gender Justice Brief. https://t.co/RlwzsTExoM
— Gender Justice (@GenderJustice) March 7, 2023
“Trans athletes across the country deserve the same rights and protections as everyone else, and deserve a fair chance to compete in the sports we love,” Cooper said in the Gender Justice statement.
“I am thrilled that this ruling recognizes our rights and our humanity and hopefully opens the door to full participation in sports for transgender athletes everywhere,” he added.
There has been an outpouring of support for Cooper on social media, with one user writing, “This is so huge. I can’t imagine how exhausting it must have been to go to war for this, but this fight is so important. Thank you.”
Gender Justice also tweeted their support for Cooper, calling her “brave and strong” and a “winner”.