USA Powerlifting has been ordered by a discrimination court to allow biological males who identify as “transgender” athletes to compete in the women’s division, The Telegraph reports.
The ruling came after trans weightlifter JayCee Cooper sued the organization, claiming it violated Minnesota state’s Human Rights Act by preventing the biological male from competing against women.
The federation was directed to stop all discriminatory practices related to sexual orientation and gender identity and reverse its previous policy of banning transgender athletes within two weeks, according to the decision.
“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 said. “That is the very essence of separation and segregation, and it is what the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) prohibits.”
Cooper expressed relief at the court’s ruling, saying, “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.”
USA Powerlifting officials stated they were considering appealing the decision.
The organization’s president, Lawrence Maile, said in a statement to KARE that their position had been aimed at balancing the needs of biological and transgender women, whose strengths differ significantly in purely strength sports.
“We have received a summary judgement 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 said.
This issue has become divisive across the U.S., with 18 states passing laws prohibiting transgender women or girls from participating in sports.
Meanwhile, several athletic organizations have announced updated policies regarding the participation of transgender athletes.
Despite winning her case, Cooper has “complex feelings” about the sport after the years-long battle.
“But I think that this win – [it] is a representation of where we can move forward,” Cooper said.