A Minnesota court has ruled that USA Powerlifting must allow biological males to compete in women’s competitions, claiming that barring transgender athletes from competing is discrimination.
The suit was brought in 2019 by transgender powerlifter JayCee Cooper, 35, who was born male. He began identifying as a female in his late 20s to compete in roller derby, which allowed transgenders to compete against biological women. After suffering an injury that made it more difficult to compete in roller derby, Cooper applied for membership with USA Powerlifting.
The organization rejected the application, so Cooper filed the lawsuit, claiming that USA Powerlifting’s barring of biological males who identified as female from competing against women violated the Minnesota Human Rights Act.
The organization’s policy did require competitors in the women’s division to be biologically female. In 2021, after Cooper’s suit was filed, the organization added an MX division for both men and women.
Nonetheless, the court ruled in Cooper’s favor, finding that he was discriminated against based on “protected status.” Ramsey County District Court Judge Patrick Diamond wrote:
The harm is in making a person pretend to be something different, the implicit message being that who they are is less than. That is the very essence of separation and segregation, and it is what the MHRA [Minnesota Human Rights Act] prohibits.”
He ordered USA Powerlifting to “cease and desist from all unfair discriminatory practices,” as well as to revise its policies within two weeks.
The ruling means that the organization must allow Cooper and any other biologically male athletes who say they are female to compete in the women’s division. What’s more, Diamond in his opinion did not acknowledge any inherent physical differences between men and women nor did he suggest that transgender women athletes needed to meet any entry conditions, such as having to be on estrogen or other medications that help lower natural testosterone levels.
USA Powerlifting President Larry Maile voiced his opposition to the ruling by saying,
“Our position has been aimed at balancing the needs of cis- and transgender women whose 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.”
Paul Bossi, president of 100% Raw Powerlifting Federation, said that his organization once let a “changed-gender female” compete and the result was four world records broken. He warned that this ruling, which completely discounts the inherent strength and physical differences between men and women, endanger women’s sports altogether, saying,
“I’m pretty upset about it. A lot of the female powerlifters in our organization are pretty upset about this. The women worked really, really hard to get where they are and this change here, it’s going to destroy not just powerlifting, but it’s going to trickle down and destroy other sports as well…There’s a reason why there’s Title IX. There’s a reason why there’s male and female divisions in everything. Men are naturally stronger, they get 67% more muscle mass on them. Naturally, they have testosterone which is a muscle-inducing chemical that your body releases.”
April Hutchinson, a powerlifter for Team Canada, responded to the ruling by saying,
“The women in powerlifting, we’re outraged, we’re angry, we’re hurt, we’re offended, we’re basically every emotion except for happy.”
When asked by Fox News’s Todd Piro how hard it would be for a woman to defeat a biological male in powerlifting, Hutchinson replied, “It’s basically impossible.” She added that a male in her age range of similar lifting experience would outlift her “just due to physiological differences like muscle mass, muscle fiber, fast twitch, bone density, handprint.”
Marshi Smith, a former NCAA champion in swimming, a sport that has also grappled with the transgender issue, chimed in on the ruling. She said,
“It seems like we’re entering into an unenlightenment era now where truth no longer prevails. The judges in the country should be seeking on a quest for truth and for justice. To imply that women should be able to overcome, for example, in the sport of powerlifting, a 30% to 60% male advantage in the sport, it is outrageous and to try to attribute this enormous gap to better coaching or training facilities, is really insulting to women.”
In his ruling, Judge Diamond chided USA Powerlifting for forcing JayCee Cooper, who up until a few years ago was known as “Joel Cooper,” to “pretend to be something different.”
By this standard, a fully-abled athlete should be allowed to compete in the Special Olympics or Paralympics by simply saying that they “identify” as “disabled” and an adult baseball player who says they are in touch with their inner child could insist on playing in Little League. By Diamond’s logic, barring any of them from doing so would be the “very essence of separation and segregation.”
In reality, the only pretending being done here is by the male athletes claiming to be women so they can compete successfully at elite and professional levels and garner all the glory and financial benefits that come with it. It’s been seen in multiple sports: An average or even subpar male athlete who can’t win against other males decides to “identify” as a woman and suddenly they break records, steal championships, earn scholarships and sponsorships, and garner praise.
These men are not brave, they are cowards. Men who claim to be women so they can compete against women, winning only because of their overwhelming physiological advantages, are not to be held up as role models or victims. Instead, they should be viewed as examples of how men should not act. Some men who identify as women may truly believe they are women, and we should have compassion and pray for them, but aiding and abetting them in the quest to compete unfairly against weaker competitors is not compassion, it is harmful.
Regardless of one’s stance on a person’s transgender status or their right to go through life as the opposite gender, there is no “right” for transgenders to compete with an unfair advantage. Performance-enhancing drugs are banned in sports and those who use them are punished and rightly viewed as cheaters, yet a biological male competing as a female has far more advantages than performance-enhancing drugs could ever give.
Proverbs 9:10 says,
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,
And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”
An awed respect of the Lord is necessary to have wisdom and understanding. What greater evidence could there be that our nation has now utterly and completely rejected God?
Ready to dive deeper into the intersection of faith and policy? Head over to our Theology of Politics series page where we’ve published several long-form pieces that will help Christians navigate where their faith should direct them on political issues.