Fighting back tears, powerlifter JayCee Cooper announced almost one month ago that she was taking USA Powerlifting to court citing violations of her civil rights under the Minnesota Human Rights Act. The lawsuit is the next chapter in the two-year fight pitting the transgender athlete against her sport’s national governing body.
Wednesday, she discussed her contentions in a Daily Blast Live interview with DBL’s Sam Schacher. In the televised interview, Cooper directly addressed USAPL’s response to her lawsuit. USAPL said in a statement January 13, “We dispute the allegations and look forward to the opportunity to present the facts within the legal system.”
Cooper relayed the litany of the governing body’s denial of her eligibility to compete, but also firmly stated the stance of the laws of her home state. “In the Minnesota Human Rights Act it been shown that you can’t discriminate against someone gender identity,” she stated. “That is clearly the case here.”
The two sides have been at odds since January 2019. The USAPL denied Cooper the opportunity to compete at one of their events claiming that allowing a transgender woman to compete would constitute what a USAPL official termed a “direct competitive advantage.” This determination was made despite that fact that Cooper meets the testosterone level limit set by International Olympic Committee. That same limit has been adopted by regulations of the International Powerlifting Federation.
Despite the guidance of the world governing body, the USAPL banned transgender participation altogether in February 2019, and upheld the ban in a vote of the USAPL Board of Governors in May of that year.
Since the filing of the lawsuit by Cooper via the Minnesota-based legal advocacy group Gender Justice, the participation of transgender women in athletics has become the subject of a wave of legislation in the statehouses, and even has the attention of the White House. A week after Cooper filed suit, President Biden issued an executive order stating, “Children should be able to learn without worrying about whether they will be denied access to the restroom, the locker room, or school sports.”
The executive order led to a wave of criticism from politicians and pundits on the political right. From television shows and twitter feeds, to education secretary nominee Miguel Cardona’s contentious confirmation joust with anti-inclusion Republican U.S. senators, the contention that trans women aren’t women and shouldn’t be allowed to play sports has been a dominant theme.
In her interview, Cooper declared her staunch opposition to that mindset before a national television audience. “Trans women are women and that is that,” she said boldly. “Sports are about having a shared dream, a pursuit of doing your absolute best and going as far as you can. Erasing a person’s dream is a violation of that person’s rights.”
Click below to see the DBL interview with JayCee Cooper.