A New Zealand weightlifter is slated to become the first transgendered competitor allowed to participate on the country’s women weightlifting team, despite having previously competed in men’s events.
Laurel Hubbard, 43, spoke to the BBC, stating that she was “grateful and humbled” by the “support” that she’s received from her fellow countrymen.
The report points out that back in 2015, the International Olympic Committee made a change to their rules, allowing transgendered athletes to participate so long as their testosterone level was brought below a certain level and maintained for at least a year. The determining criteria, 10 nanomoles per liter of testosterone, is more than five times greater than that of the average biological woman.
Critics say that Hubbard, who transitioned to a woman 8 years ago, still possesses an unfair advantage over her competitors in the women’s super heavyweight category.
The Guradian, which cited IOC guidelines, reports that athletes who make the transition from male to female are allowed to keep their testes if they wish and still compete. The paper also reported studies that demonstrate how power gained during puberty as a male has lasting effects.
Hubbard lifted 628 pounds as qualification for the women’s super-heavyweight division, winning a silver medal in the 2017 World Championships and taking gold at the 2019 Pacific Games in Samoa. Hubbard also competed in the 2018 Commonwealth Games but experienced an injury that set back her carreer.
Kereyn Smith, New Zealand Olympic Committee chief executive, said that Hubbard meets all necessary criteria for competing in Tokyo.
Smith said that they “acknowledge” how gender in competitive sports is “a highly sensitive. . . complex issue” that straddles the boundary “between human rights and fairness.” She added that the New Zealand Women’s Team possesses “a strong culture of manaaki” which stresses “inclusion and respect for all.”
Hubbard’s competitor, Anna Vanbellinghen of Belgium said that the presence of the formerly-male New Zealander was “like a bad joke” for women’s sports.
She added that the “debate” about transgenderism and the “broader context of discrimination” means that the question of allowing such people to participate in women’s sports “is never free of ideology.”
Author: Richard Christensen