Lawsuits and Controversy: The Hardships Behind Being a Trangender Athlete

Lawsuits and Controversy: The Hardships Behind Being a Trangender Athlete

Josie Graves, Journalist

A path, paved by brave athletes yet burdened with judgement and inequality, is beginning to mirror the once obstacle ridden road that many up and comers have casted away their dreams to avoid. We have seen it before but as we continue to climb through the 21st century, a problem thought to be improving has once again shown its power over the minority. Those who identify as LGBTQ+, have had to fight a long and relentless battle to gain the same opportunities given to those outside of the community. But even though we have been given a glimpse into what having similar rights looks like, there are still many inequalities that have yet to be balanced.  This statement is even truer in sports. For those who identify as trans women or men, this fact may be an unnecessary obstacle, and the success that they strive for can become an impossible feat when the competitors’ gender identity is used against them. 

This very thing is what happened to JayCee Cooper.

Cooper, a trans woman who has dedicated herself to the sport of powerlifting, was barred from competing after applying for her first competition. “I was gutted. I had been training for months and up until that point had experienced so much love and community around the sport,” said Cooper in a news conference. She went on to explain the shock and confusion that surrounded the decision of the olympic committee to place a non compete on this young athlete. This act seemed even more unbelievable by the fact that in 2015, the IOC put in place regulations made specifically to allow trangender people to compete. The IPF, or International Powerlifting Federation, adopted a rule that as long as the athlete’s testosterones levels remain below a certain level for “at least 12 months prior to her first competition” and stays at this point “ throughout the period of desired eligibility to compete in the female category” she is eligible to partake in events, states the IOC rulebook. 

Cooper, who found her struggle with her own gender identity lessened once she joined the sport, is now suing USA Powerlifting for violating the Minnesota Human Rights Act. NBC covered the story and details of the lawsuit which includes proof that Cooper had not violated the policy regarding testosterone levels. 

However, Cooper is not the only one being affected by the federation’s uncooperative nature towards transgender athletes.

Laurel Hubbard stirred up much controversy on the subject after she won gold at an international competition. Being a trangendered woman herself, the win caused outrage throughout the united nations and has incited calls to “ the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to suspend its rules that allow male-to-female transgender athletes to take part in women’s competitions” explains ABC news. Many people feel that it is unfair for other women to be competing against someone who came from having the same strength and power as a man. Though this is a popular belief, and one commonly brought up in the midst of these arguments, it is not entirely true. In fact, once transitioned, the level of testosterone or synthetic hormone allowed is so “low they actually reduce the physical capability of the body to a point where sport becomes harder to play competitively,” a fact emphasized by a study done through ABC news that wanted to debunk some misconceptions that came up as controversy swirled. Just because someone has transitioned genders, does not give them any more or less of an advantage over their fellow competitors. 

Regulations are put into place to make competition fair and fun for every participant. But if these rules make the game equitable for all who want to join, why are we still hearing these stories of people being stripped of their dreams simply because their gender is different from the one assigned at birth? 

Everyone should get the chance to compete and do what they are passionate about without fear that their identity crosses an imaginary  line created by the minds of the majority. You would think in the 21st century, rules would have already been molded to the world in which people are allowed to live as whomever they want. But as these sports continue to abide by the pre existent definition of gender that no longer truthfully defines the concept, allegations and lawsuits like JayCee’s will sadly continue to be commonplace. 

 

Works Cited

John Welch. “USA Powerlifting Bans Transgender Athletes from Competition.”
BarBend, 19 Feb. 2019, barbend.com/usapl-transgender-participation-policy/.

Ewart, Richard. “Transgender Athletes Controversy Swirls after Laurel Hubbard Wins Gold at Pacific Games.” ABC News, ABC News, 30 July 2019, www.abc.net.au/news/2019-07-30/transgender-athletes-in-the-pacific-under-fire/11360854

Holmes, Tracey. “’They Always Have an Advantage’: Five Myths about Transgender Athletes Debunked.” ABC News, ABC News, 9 Apr. 2018, www.abc.net.au/news/2018-04-09/five-myths-about-transgender-athletes-debunked/9634496.

Sang, Lucia I. Suarez. “USA Powerlifting Organisation Bans Transgender Women from Competing.” NewsComAu, Fox News, 7 Feb. 2019, www.news.com.au/sport/sports-life/usa-powerlifting-organisation-bans-transgender-women-from-competing/news-story/c6a26b686bd10397990a66cce80b3dd5.

Sang, Lucia I. Suarez. “USA Powerlifting Organisation Bans Transgender Women from Competing.” NewsComAu, Fox News, 7 Feb. 2019, www.news.com.au/sport/sports-life/usa-powerlifting-organisation-bans-transgender-women-from-competing/news-story/c6a26b686bd10397990a66cce80b3dd5.

Venkatraman, Sakshi. “Transgender Athlete Sues USA Powerlifting over Competition Ban.” NBCNews.com, NBCUniversal News Group, 13 Jan. 2021, www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/transgender-athlete-sues-usa-powerlifting-over-competition-ban-n1253960.