Controversy has erupted after New Zealand trans weightlifter, Laurel Hubbard, who was born male, now looks set to make history by taking part in the women’s super heavyweight weightlifting category in the Olympics.
Despite being 43 years old, considered long past the peak of strength in competitive weightlifting, Hubbard won silver at the 2017 world championships.
While some welcomed the inclusion, many expressed upset and anger at the news that the amended rules would see transgender athletes compete in women’s competition.
The International Olympics Committee amended its rules in 2015 to allow any transgender athlete to compete as a woman without surgery provided their testosterone levels are below 10 nanomoles per litre for at least 12 months before their first competition.
However, critics say the decision ignores recent research which has shown that people who undergo male puberty retain significant advantages in power and strength even if they take medication to suppress testosterone levels.
Hubbard was involved in competitive weightlifting as a male for years, but never won the elite titles now garnered while competing as a female athlete .
Two years ago, the transgender athlete took gold medals at the 2019 Pacific Games in Samoa, buty the win triggered outrage with Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegao saying it was “shocking” and that a “man should have never been allowed by the Pacific Games Council president to lift with the women.”
At the time Samoa 2019 chairman Loau Solamalemalo Keneti Sio described Hubbard’s participation in the women’s over-87 kilograms as “unfair”.
That was echoed in many online comments after news broke this week of Hubbard’s likely participation in the Olympics. While New Zealand have yet to finalise the teams, NBC sports reported that it was “very likely” Hubbard would be included.
Weightlifter Laurel Hubbard, a transgender woman from New Zealand, remains in Olympic qualifying position after the qualifying system was updated Tuesday (and extended to May 31). Spot not clinched yet, but note a lack of international events on the calendar to impact standings.
— Nick Zaccardi (@nzaccardi) May 5, 2021
History is expected to be made – yes, a dark moment in women's history where mediocre men who can't qualify for men's sports easily win women's. There's still many people in the world, including the president of the US saying this is social progressionhttps://t.co/C5UiFeaEox
— Lottie Lewis (@LottieHistory) May 6, 2021
Four ethics of sports: Fairness, Integrity, Responsibility, Respect.
This goes against sporting ethics. Let her compete in the male leagues.
It is unfair to let her compete with women as she has lived as a male without surgery for 35 years.https://t.co/EuIeqs0drB
— Karldin (@karldinmanfor) May 6, 2021
I cannot see this as anything but detrimental to women's sport. I would support Laurel Hubbard 100% in a trans or open category based on what is now known of retained post transition advantage, but I fear this is a victory only against fairness
— Feef (@FeckOffFlouncer) May 6, 2021
Transgender operations free, Inclusive language, Non-binary in passports. Cool. We should accept people as they are. But this is ridiculous.
It depends on the level of testosterone. I am sorry but her body developed as a biological man. Unfair competition.https://t.co/y3vKDKIMny
— Arjen ten Have (@DarwinianAscent) May 6, 2021
The controversy is set to continue.