Court Rules Trans ‘Woman,’ a Biological Male, May Compete Against Female Weight Lifters

Spencer J. Fairfield | March 7, 2023 | 10:45am EST
Text Audio
00:00 00:00
Font Size
JayCee Cooer, a transgender female (biological male) powerlifter.  (Screenshot)
JayCee Cooper, a transgender female (biological male) powerlifter. (Screenshot)

( -- A Minnesota state court has ruled that USA Powerlifting (USAPL) must allow transgender athletes to compete. Transgender athlete JayCee Cooper, a male who identifies as a female, filed a lawsuit in 2021, and last week the court said a policy “that trans women … were not allowed to compete as female” was in violation of the state’s anti-discrimination law. 

The court’s ruling says the USAPL must “cease and desist from all unfair discriminatory practices” and that the organization has two weeks to amend all rules deemed in violation of the ruling. Athletes are now able to compete in divisions based on their personal gender identity and not their biological sex.

Biological males (who identify as females) will be allowed by law to compete in powerlifting against biological females.

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

After the decision, Cooper told a local news outlet, “After years of experiencing discrimination from USA Powerlifting, and the backlash that has occurred due to that, of course I have complex feelings about the sport. But I think that this win is a representation of where we can move forward.”

In response to the ruling, USA Powerlifting President Larry Maile condemned the court’s actions stating, “Our position has been aimed at balancing the needs of cis-  and transgender women, whose capacities differ significantly in purely strength sports.”  (Cis-gender is a politically correct term that refers to a person who identifies with the sex they were born into.)

“We have received a summary judgement decision from the court finding us liable for discrimination,” said Maile. “We respectfully disagree with the court’s conclusions. We are considering all of our options, including appeal.”

JayCee Cooper, a transgender female powerlifter.  (Screenshot, JayCee Cooper)
JayCee Cooper, a transgender female powerlifter. (Screenshot, JayCee Cooper)

The USAPL is a member of the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF), and the IWF keeps an up-to-date record of all world weightlifting records divided by weight class held by males and females. The movements that are recorded are the snatch, clean and jerk, and total (the sum of weight from the two movements).

In the male and female weight division of 55kg, or roughly 120 pounds, there is a significant difference in the amount of weight being lifted. The world standard for the male snatch is 135 kg (298 lbs.) and the world record clean and jerk is 166kg (366 lbs.). The current male world record total for this weight class is 294 kg (648 lbs.).

The 55kg female divisions world record snatch is 102 kg (225 lbs.) and the clean and jerk is 129 kg (284 lbs.). The world record total is 227 kg (500 lbs.).

The 55kg division is considered to be the lightest weight class for men and the 3rd lightest for women. Based on this world record data, the male world record weight is significantly higher than female.

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

IWF data show that male weightlifters are consistently lifting more weight than women during these events as bodyweight increases. 

During the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the heaviest female division was +87kg. The gold medalist in this division, Li Wenwen, set three Olympic records. She set a record in the snatch, clean and jerk, and the total. Wenwen totaled 320 kg (702 lbs.).

This total is only 7 kg ahead of the gold medalist in the male’s lightest division and 12 kg behind the gold medalist in the males second lightest division. Wenwen would have tied for 5th in the males second lightest division.

Eighty-eight males competed in the final event of each perspective weight class. Li Wenwen was the strongest woman at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Despite her strength and rank among female lifters, she would have tied for 59th place when comparing her to all of the male weightlifters at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

mrc merch