A Trans Day of Visibility Message from JayCee Cooper
I wanted to take a quick break from training for nationals coming up this weekend to write to you about Trans Day of Visibility today.
If we haven’t met before, my name is JayCee Cooper. I am a lifelong sport enthusiast. I follow as many sports as I can. I can’t get enough. I am also a sister, a friend, and a neighbor. But most of all I’m just human.
In 2018 I applied to compete at two state competitions in the USA Powerlifting Federation. I was denied access to both of those competitions. And when I sought participation in another organization, four days after I competed, USA Powerlifting adopted a new rule categorically banning trans athletes.
That’s when I decided to seek legal help and found Gender Justice. We pursued a charge of discrimination with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights.
On January 12, 2021, Gender Justice and Nichols Kaster filed a complaint on my behalf after mediation with USA Powerlifting failed. Through this lawsuit, we are seeking protection from discrimination for all trans athletes like myself and a clear, fair standard that allows trans athletes the opportunity to compete in the category of their gender identity. My case is scheduled to go to trial in November.
Trans athletes like myself have been competing in sports for decades without issue. Organizations like the International Olympic Committee, International Powerlifting Federation, the International Weightlifting Federation, the NCAA, the Olympics, and the Minnesota State High School League, all have policies allowing trans athletes to compete.
In the entire time that trans people have been allowed to compete in sports, no single trans person has ever “dominated” any sport, ever. The claim that trans people are going to take over a sport and eliminate opportunities for cis women is categorically false.
However, cis people unfortunately wield the power to cause immeasurable harm to the trans and non-binary community, especially trans youth.
As a powerlifter and a transgender person, I’m no stranger to a challenge. I’ve jumped through all the hoops, trying to meet USA Powerlifting’s arbitrary and subjective standards, just to have them respond with an outright ban on transgender women in competitions. At some point you have to say enough is enough. USA Powerlifting’s blanket ban violates not just the law, but the very spirit of sports.
Women’s sports are stronger when we value inclusion and equity over division and hate. Everyone in women’s sports wins when we have the most talented athletes on the court, who are not only skilled and trained, but supported on their teams.
Trans women are women, and we belong in women’s sports. Our right to compete is supported by the International Olympic Committee, the International Powerlifting Federation’s Executive Committee, federal and Minnesota state law.
We can’t and won’t cease to exist. We will continue to demand the human rights that we deserve. Instead of tearing us down, I hope that cis people will use the power that they hold to promote healing and justice. Because that is what we all really need.
March 31, 2022