Transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard will break new ground at the Olympics
At the seminal moment when transgender athletes fought for the right to compete, New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard became the first transgender athlete in history to be selected for the Olympic team.
The 43-year-old Auckland native is one of five weightlifters selected for the New Zealand Olympic team on Monday.
Hubbard said in a statement: “I am grateful and humble for the kindness and support that so many New Zealanders have given me.”
The news of this milestone has aroused strong support from the transgender community, including triathletes and transgender athlete Chris Mosier.
“Laurel Hubbard becoming the first transgender athlete at the Olympics will be of great significance-for the entire transgender community, but especially for me, because I have been working hard for the past ten years to lay the foundation for this moment. Basics,” Mosier said on Twitter.
The announcement also sparked a debate about fairness and equality in the competition between transgender athletes and non-transgender women, an issue that has faced criticism for Hubbard for years.
Watch | Laurel Hubbard’s Olympic selection is a polarizing topic:
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) implemented a rule change in 2015 that allows transgender athletes to participate in the Olympics as women if their testosterone levels are below a certain level.
Hubbard transitioned in 2013 after participating in the competition as a male. She has always met all the IOC’s qualification requirements for transgender athletes. She will be the oldest weightlifter in the Tokyo Olympics to participate in competitions over 87 kg.
The head of the Alberta track team “angered”
Among those questioning the fairness of Hubbard’s Olympic selection is Linda Brad, president of the Alberta Athletics Association.
“My highest reaction is surprise. Obviously, with the support of the International Olympic Committee, male bodies can participate in women’s sports, which is a bit outrageous,” Brad said.
“I think all it has to do is to let the little girls know that you are no longer a sport.”
Olympic Weightlifting New Zealand chairman Rich Patterson quickly resolved the issue on Monday.
Patterson said: “We do know that there are many questions about the fairness of transgender athletes participating in the Olympics, but I want to take this opportunity to remind all of us that Laurel meets all the required standards.”
“She is a very dedicated and tough athlete. On behalf of Laurel, I said that she is honored to join the team and thank her for the support and help she has received so far.”
Watch | Do transgender athletes have an unfair advantage?
Transgender advocate Susan Gapka called this milestone “sooner or later.”
Gapka told CBC Sports’ Jamie Strathine on Monday: “People who think this is unfair will raise a lot of objections, but this person meets the legal requirements.”
Gapka hopes that Hubbard’s participation in the Olympics will trigger a greater discussion about the importance of inclusiveness of transgender people in sports.
“Telling people that’you are not included’ is wrong and unacceptable in today’s society. They will meet the standards, and they will compete.”
Hubbard won a silver medal at the 2017 World Championships and then a gold medal at the 2019 Samoa Pacific Games.
She suffered a major setback when she suffered a serious elbow injury in the 2018 Commonwealth Games, but she has since ranked fourth in the women’s super heavyweight women’s group entering the Summer Olympics.
Gapka said that most importantly, Hubbard’s Olympic story can provide inspiration for future generations of transgender athletes who want to compete at the highest level of their respective sports.
“They can see role models,” Gapka said. “If someone wants to participate in sports and say,’But what about me? Where do I belong?’ They can see who they aspire to be.
“People need to have dreams and hopes, I just think it’s a good [transgender] people. “