“Think About It.”
A transgender woman who started powerlifting only a year ago recently set a state benchpress record for her adopted gender.
In December, JayCee Cooper was rejected from competing in a Minnesota event run by USA Powerlifting. That decision led to a blanket ban on transgender competitors by the association, which is seen at tops in the United States.
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But, undeterred, Cooper signed up for another event in the state organized by the smaller US Powerlifting Association, which allowed her to participate it in its non-drug-tested category. With just a year of competition under her belt, by her account, Cooper won two titles: the raw open and the raw bench, and set the association’s Minnesota-wide benchpress record with a 214.5-pound left.
While she was pleased with the results, Cooper recounted facing “transphobia” from other competitors. She has made clear that she will keep pushing to break into the big time.
“I am hopeful that the USAPL membership will stand up for trans inclusion and be on the right side of history,” she told SBNation’s queer Outsports brand. “Trans athletes should not be feared but celebrated fiercely.”
Cooper has some powerful allies in her quest, including LGBT advocates, who were outraged by her rejection, and Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, who last week called for an investigation of USA Powerlifting over its transgender ban.
However, for critics of the transgender rights movement, Cooper’s rapid ascent toward the top of her sport underlines what they see as the absurdity of biological men competing against biological women.
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Fair Play for Women, a UK feminist group that opposes the inclusion of transgender women in female-only institutions, tweeted out news of Cooper’s victory on Sunday, saying: “Think About It.”
This is Minnesota Women's Powerlifting State Champion. Jaycee set a new state record in women's bench and won best overall lifter. Jaycee was born male and took up weightlifting about a year ago and now dominates the state female rankings. Think About It. https://t.co/fGnTuUghHF pic.twitter.com/EJ9rLeceFT
— FairPlayForWomen (@fairplaywomen) February 10, 2019
Jonathan Kay, an editor at Quillette, a right-leaning online magazine, commented sarcastically: “What a prodigy.”
Imagine dominating a sport after only doing it for a year. What a prodigy. https://t.co/Ph9q8pbCFY
— Jonathan Kay (@jonkay) February 11, 2019
Cooper and other transgender athletes argue that they are just like other women when it comes to sports. They and their supporters point to research that has failed to demostrate a relationship between testosterone levels and athletic performance. However, many scientists say that transgender athletes have an unfair leg up when it comes to speed and power.
For that reason, the International Olympic Committee requires transgender women to pass tests demonstrating that their testosterone levels do not exceed a certain level. Other sports governing bodies, including the NCAA, have stricter regulations.
Many of these institutions are at stake in a legislative fight brewing over transgender-rights legislation that is brewing in Washington. Most prominently, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said she will use her new Democratic majority to advance the Equality Act, a bill that would codify protections against LGBT discrimination, including special guarantees for trans people to be regarded in federal spaces according to their self-identified gender rather than their biological sex.
However, not everyone has gotten on board. A number of “trans-exclusionary radical feminists,” as they are derogatorily called on the left, last month sought to block the Equality Act by aligning with conservatives and in one case ambushing a transgender woman who was advocating for the bill on Capitol Hill.
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