Pip Malone

USA Powerlifting (USAPL) has banned all male-to-female (MTF) transgender individuals from competing against biological women. Pictured above is female Australian Weightlifter and CrossFit athlete Pip Malone.

Minneapolis powerlifter JayCee Cooper, a male-to-female transgender who recently won a women’s powerlifting state championship, is challenging USAPL’s ban.

The USAPL wrote in an email to Cooper: “Male-to-female transgenders are not allowed to compete as females in our static strength sports as it is a direct competitive advantage.”

The USAPL’s “transgender participation policy” notes that, while “USA Powerlifting is an inclusive organization for all athletes… USA Powerlifting is not a fit for every athlete and for every medical condition or situation.”

Cooper is considering challenging the USAPL’s decision in court.

Renée Richards, born Richard Raskind, was the first male-to-female transsexual to successfully sue for the right to compete in a major women’s tennis tournament in the 1970s.
Richards underwent sex reassignment surgery at age 41, and entered the women’s professional tennis circuit in 1977 at age 43. Richards lost to Virginia Wade in the first round of the US Open.

Richards, who is now 84, believes genetic males have a distinct physiological advantage over genetic females.

“I know if I’d had surgery at the age of 22, and then at 24 went on the tour, no genetic woman in the world would have been able to come close to me. And so I’ve reconsidered my opinion.”

According to the USAPL’s transgender policy, male-to-female athletes have a “direct competitive advantage” over biological women due to their “muscle mass, bone density, bone structure, and connective tissue” acquired through exposure to testosterone during puberty.

Outsports.com, which celebrates homosexuality in sports, compared male-to-female trans individuals to Black women, saying studies have shown Black females have a higher bone density than white females.

“The bone density of black women is, on average, significantly higher than that of white women. In fact, some studies have shown the bone strength of black women to be higher than that of white men,” writes Outsports. “Yet we don’t see any great rush to divide lifting categories by race, proving this bone-density argument to be nothing but a canard designed to specifically target trans athletes.”

Cooper, who won a women’s state championship in the smaller U.S. Powerlifting Association (USPA) in January, says the USAPL’s decision is unfair to powerlifter’s who were born male.

“I won their Minnesota State Championship and it was amazing, but it still felt off knowing that I was denied eligibility for USA Powerlifting,” Cooper told Outsports.com.

In an Instagram post, Cooper writes, “I am hopeful that the USAPL membership will stand up for trans inclusion and be on the right side of history. Trans athletes should not be feared but celebrated fiercely.”

Read Cooper’s full IG post below.

View this post on Instagram

@uspaminnesota State Champion, State Record in Bench, best overall lifter. And still a bittersweet victory. I’m so proud of how far I’ve come with lifting but sad and dismayed about how much I’ve had to fight to make it happen. Thank you @uspapower for giving me the opportunity to compete when others would not. When @usapowerlifting /USAPL, a different federation, made me ineligible to compete and I was informed by the TUEC chair that “Male-to-female transgenders are not allowed to compete as females in our static strength sport as it is a direct competitive advantage.” I was gutted for numerous reasons. I followed the @olympics committee rules that were adopted into @theipf constitution, the constitution from the international governing body for USAPL. I declared my gender for sporting purposes (There’s a big fat F on my member card, license, passport, etc.) I submitted 5 test results spanning 2016 to present showing that my testosterone levels have been and continue to be significantly under the guidelines. I agreed to further testing. I watched as friends competed in the @usa_powerlifting_mn Bench State Champs unimpeded. I saw them celebrating their triumphs and bonding with their teams all while knowing that I wasn’t competing with them because I am trans, and that is a cause for concern for some folks. According to the USAPL “individuals having gone through male puberty confer an unfair competitive advantage over non-transgender females due to increased bone density and muscle mass from pubertal exposure to testosterone” Again, this is not a policy you can look up, this is what was handed down by USAPL folks via email. Not to make this the point, but seriously, I wouldn’t have won USAPL Bench States, even if I PR-ed. Im not going to be going after @bubblypowerlifter ‘s records anytime soon (serious props to the lifter who can someday, trans or not. I do hope it’s a trans person!) I’m just an athlete grinding in the gym day in/out trying to see what I can do. (cont. in comments)

A post shared by JayCee Cooper (Lives) (@jayceeisalive) on

Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images