Democratic Muslim Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar is calling for an investigation into USA Powerlifting's decision to bar a trans-identified athlete from competing against women, saying she doesn't believe he has a "competitive advantage" over women.
The 37-year-old Somali-American first-term congresswoman claims that the organization's policy barring biological men from women's competitions violates the Minnesota Human Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity and other social identifiers.
In a letter sent to USA Powerlifting Executive Director Priscilla Ribic on Jan. 31, Omar criticized the organization for barring one of her constituents, JayCee Cooper, a biologically male trans-identified athlete from competing against women in Minnesota.
Omar has refused to believe that biological men are stronger than women, saying it's a "myth" and "discriminatory behavior" to think such things.
USA Powerlifting, which oversees and organizes powerlifting competitions across the country, maintains that male-to-female trans-identified athletes are not allowed to compete in women's competitions because of the fact it gives them a competitive advantage in a strength sport.
But Omar, who along with other Democratic women elected to Congress in 2018, is seen as the new face of a more liberal party, and doesn't buy USA Powerlifting's reasoning.
"Under Minnesota Human Rights Act, discrimination against anyone based on their gender identity is illegal," Omar told Ribic. "This includes in public accommodations, and in Minnesota, organizations such as USA Powerlifting. In fact, [in December], 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 urged the organization to reconsider the "discriminatory, unscientific policy" and follow in the footsteps of the International Olympic Committee, which allows biological men who identify as women to compete in women's events if they meet certain testosterone limits.
"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," Omar argued.
Considering that Omar is a U.S. congresswoman, she doesn't have jurisdiction regarding violations of state law and federal law doesn't prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity.
Omar, however, explained in the letter that she recommended that Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison "investigate this discriminatory behavior."
The letter was first made public earlier this week when Cooper posted a picture of the letter to Instagram.
"Thank you @repilhan for your support and for asking for this to be looked at," Cooper wrote. "Proud to be called your constituent. No one deserves to be excluded because of who they are. @usapowerlifting, their policy, and how I'm being treated. IS NOT OKAY. The time for trans inclusion is NOW."
The authenticity of the letter was confirmed by Omar's office, The Daily Caller reports.
In January, USA Powerlifting released a statement explaining its policies regarding trans-identified athletes following Cooper's denial.
The statement explained that as a national affiliate of the International Powerlifting Federation, it follows the policies "as defined by the IPF Medical Committee which impact the participation of transgender individuals in events sanctioned by USA Powerlifting."
"Through analysis the impact of maturation in the presence naturally occurring androgens as the level necessary for male development, significant advantages are had, including but not limited to increased body and muscle mass, bone density, bone structure, and connective tissue," the statement says in regard to male-to-female athletes competing in women's events. "These advantages are not eliminated by reduction of serum androgens such as testosterone yielding a potential advantage in strength sports such as powerlifting."