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Omar Demands USA Powerlifting Lift Ban on Trans Women

Rep. Ilhan Omar, (D., Minn.) walks in Washington, D.C., January 16, 2019. (Yuri Gripas/REUTERS)

Representative Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) urged USA Powerlifting to lift its ban on transgender women competing against biological females in a January 31 letter, and called on Minnesota attorney general Keith Ellison to investigate the organization for violating state anti-discrimination laws.

Omar sent the letter on behalf of JayCee Cooper, a male-to-female transgender constituent who was prohibited from competing against biological women. In the letter — which Cooper posted on Instagram Tuesday, prompting coverage from OutSports — Omar calls the notion that trans women have a “direct competitive advantage” over biological females a “myth” and accuses USA Powerlifting of unlawful discrimination.


“Under the Minnesota Human Rights Act, discrimination against anyone based on their gender identity is illegal. This includes in public accommodations, and in Minnesota, organizations such as USA Powerlifting. In fact, just last month a Minnesota jury awarded Ms. Christina Ginther $20,000 after the Independent Women’s Football League refused to allow her to participate because she is transgender,” Omar wrote.

Omar also recommended that Ellison, who was copied on the letter, investigate USA Powerlifting for violating the state’s human-rights laws.

USA Powerlifting announced in January a prohibition on transgender women competing against biological females, citing the significant body of scientific evidence which suggests that simply lowering a trans competitor’s testosterone level to that of a typical biological female does not entirely eradicate the athletic advantages inherent to male biology.

“Men naturally have a larger bone structure, higher bone density, stronger connective tissue and higher muscle density than women,” the competitive weightlifting association explained. “These traits, even with reduced levels of testosterone do not go away. While [male-to-female athletes] may be weaker and less muscle [sic] than they once were, the biological benefits given them at birth still remain over that of a female.”

Omar urged USA Powerlifting to bring its policy in line with that of the International Olympic Committee, which allows trans women to compete against biological females provided they artificially lower their testosterone to a certain level.

“I urge you to reconsider this discriminatory, unscientific policy and follow the example of the International Olympic Committee. The myth that trans women have a ‘direct competitive advantage’ is not supported by medical science, and it continues to stoke fear and violence against one of the most at-risk communities in the world,” she concluded.

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