Independent Council on Women’s Sports and USA Powerlifting Urge Public Support for Women Powerlifters in Historic Minnesota Lawsuit


Appeal Filed in Cooper v. USA Powerlifting Case




Independent Council on Women’s Sports and USA Powerlifting
Urge Public Support for Women Powerlifters
 in Historic Minnesota Lawsuit

Appeal Filed in Cooper v. USA Powerlifting Case

The Independent Council on Women’s Sports (ICONS) and USA Powerlifting (USAPL) held a joint press conference on Monday June 12, 2023 to protest a district court’s ruling that USAPL must cease operations in Minnesota unless it permits male athletes to compete against women in powerlifting competitions.

The USAPL last week filed an appeal to the Minnesota district court ruling in Cooper v. USA Powerlifting and will take it all the way to the US Supreme Court if necessary, USAPL President Larry Maile, PhD, told the press conference held near Dallas, TX.

“We know we’re a national landmark” case, he said.

The Minnesota judge’s “radical erasure of an entire sport is a grave warning to other sports organizations that unless they are willing to knowingly discriminate against women and girls, at every age and every level, their beloved sport could next be on the chopping block,” said Marshi Smith, co-founder of ICONS.

A replay of the press conference can be seen on the ICONS Twitter and other @icons_women platforms.

Canadian powerlifter April Hutchinson said that powerlifting, with its strict rules about drug-free fitness, “saved my life,” and she can’t imagine not competing. However, her protests about competing against male participants have been rejected and may even get her “kicked off” national rosters.

“We have to stand up, and let our voices be known,” said Jade Dickens, a world champion powerlifter from Texas who has for years trained young female powerlifters.

Other female athletes told the press conference that being forced to compete against male participants is demoralizing and unfair—and it is shocking that when they protest what skateboarder Taylor Silverman called an “absolute absurdity,” they are held up to public ridicule and even threatened with harm.

Male competitors have cost women their chances for roster spots, prize money, paychecks, and scholarships created for women athletes, said Silverman. IWV Advisor Riley Gaines, twelve-time All-American swimmer, who spoke by video, added that in competitions—and especially in locker rooms—women athletes have “felt that our privacy and our safety and our dignity didn’t matter.”

Playing basketball against men in practices and scrimmages made it easy to see that “the strength and speed differences were immense,” said retired Midwestern State University women’s basketball player Kassidy Comer. “I strongly feel that we stand at a major precipice of either a major win for women everywhere or the destruction of women’s sports as we know it.”  

Dr. Maile said the Anchorage, Alaska-headquartered USAPL delved into the transgender powerlifter issue for several years.

Research found men powerlifters outmatched women by 43% to 65%—“there really is a difference, in terms of power and performance,” he said. Moreover, when transgender hormone therapy (to reduce testosterone) is factored in, there is still a 30% to 50% difference in performance, “and that can’t be overcome,” he said. Data like this led to USAPL’s policy that says “use of testosterone and participation of male to female transgender athletes in the women’s category of our sport compromises fair play.”

Ms. Smith said ICONS has a new petition—found here—to ask governing boards of sport and legislative authorities to protect and preserve women’s powerlifting sport. To date, almost 60 female powerlifters have signed the petition, including one Minnesota female powerlifter who wrote: “Powerlifting has divisions and weight classes in order to provide a fair opportunity for all those who compete, it is as simple as that.”

ICONS is also seeking contributions to a legal fund to help female athletes in litigation. Donations can be made here.

ICONS is a US-based non-partisan, non-profit network of eminent athletes and coaches, experts, parents, and concerned citizens advocating for fairness and safety in women’s sports. It seeks an end to all policies and rules that would allow male athletes to take roster spots on women’s teams and/or compete in women’s events. For questions or more information, please contact [email protected].

On June 17, USAPL is holding the 2023 Equipped Nationals at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas. For more details on this event or USAPL, please visit or contact [email protected].

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CONTACT: Marshi Smith Independent Council on Women's Sports 702-323-4516 [email protected] 

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