Minnesota Court of Appeals affirms discrimination against transgender athletes is illegal

March 18, 2024

Stacey Burns, Information Specialist
[email protected]

Gender Justice continues to fight for transgender woman’s right to compete, and to make clear that all discrimination based on transgender status violates Minnesota law

Saint Paul, Minn.—

Today the Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed that discrimination against athletes based on gender identity violates the Minnesota Human Rights Act, but sent the case of a transgender woman who was denied entry into USA Powerlifting (USAPL) competitions back to a district court to determine whether USAPL rejected her because she is transgender.

JayCee Cooper, who is transgender was denied entry into women’s competitions hosted by USAPL. Represented by Gender Justice and the law firms Nichols Kaster and Premo Frank, Ms. Cooper filed charges with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights in 2019, asserting that USAPL’s actions violated the Minnesota Human Rights Act.

Ms. Cooper’s attorneys filed the lawsuit known as Cooper vs. USA Powerlifting in Ramsey County District Court in 2021, seeking protection from discrimination, and a clear, fair standard that allows all transgender athletes the opportunity to compete in the category of their gender identity. In February 2023, the district court issued a favorable summary judgment decision finding that Ms. Cooper had indeed been discriminated against.

“The Court of Appeals affirmed that it is illegal to discriminate against transgender people in sports, but sent the case back down for trial to determine whether that is what happened here,” said Jess Braverman, legal director for Gender Justice. “We believe that it is crystal clear that JayCee Cooper experienced exactly this kind of discrimination, and we are confident that the courts will ultimately agree.

“We remain committed to vindicating Ms. Cooper’s rights and advocating for a future where everyone, regardless of gender identity, has equal access to a full range of opportunities in sports and every life pursuit. Our fight continues for fairness, equality, and the basic human rights of transgender people in Minnesota and beyond.”

Attorneys on the case are Jess Braverman, Christy Hall, and Sara Jane Baldwin of Gender Justice, David Schlesinger and Riley Palmer of Nichols Kaster, and Matt Frank of Premo Frank.


Gender Justice is a legal and policy advocacy organization dedicated to advancing gender equity through the law. Our vision is for a world where people of all genders, gender identities and expressions, and sexual orientations have the opportunity to thrive. We work towards our vision through impact litigation, advocacy, movement building, and public education.

Nichols Kaster, PLLP fiercely advocates for the rights of all people who have been wronged by powerful employers, corporations, and government establishments. Our renowned legal team represents individuals and classes from across the country in actions involving illegal workplace conduct, wage theft, civil rights violations, and more. For nearly 50 years, Nichols Kaster, PLLP has been on the cutting edge of the law.

Premo Frank are award-winning attorneys for whistleblowers, employees, and victims of civil rights violations. Our work has recovered tens of millions of dollars for our clients, led to the criminal conviction of the powerful, and transformed the law to create a more just society. We continue that work each day.

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