Some reporters at the Olympics were apparently told to ignore transgender athletes’ “unfair advantage,” deeming the advantage “misinformation.”
PA Media reported this week that “journalists attending the Tokyo International Forum for the event ‘were handed a 20-page guidebook prepared by three LGBT activist groups with the approval of the International Weightlifting Federation,'” The Blaze noted.
“The guidelines urged media to ignore ‘misinformation’ that transgender athletes have an ‘unfair advantage,’ and asked them to ‘familiarize yourselves with this anti-LGBTQ groups and their campaigns targeting transgender access to sports,’ including the UK-based Fair Play For Women,” PA Media detailed.
The report noted that transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard, a biological male who identifies as a woman, took no questions from the press after losing the +87kg weightlifting competition on Monday.
“I know that from a sporting perspective I haven’t really hit the standards that I put upon myself and perhaps the standards that my country has expected of me,” Hubbard said after failing to move past the snatch lift.
“But one of the things for which I am profoundly grateful is that the supporters in New Zealand have given me so much and have been beyond astonishing,” the 43-year-old said.
“I know that my participation at these Games has not been entirely without controversy but they (the New Zealand Olympic Committee) have been just so wonderful and I’m so grateful to them.”
Critics, including female athletes and female weightlifters, spoke out about Hubbard’s participation in women’s athletics, noting of unfair advantages biological men have over women, including even post-hormone therapy, as a British Journal of Sports Medicine study suggests.
As Hubbard noted, though, the athlete had support from the Olympics. IOC medical and science director Dr. Richard Budgett last week praised the trans weightlifter and claimed that “everyone agrees that trans women are women.”
“To put it in a nutshell, the IOC had a scientific consensus back in 2015,” Budgett explained. “There are no IOC rules or regulations around transgender participation. That depends on each international federation.”
“So Laurel Hubbard is a woman and is competing under the rules of her federation, and we have to pay tribute to her courage and tenacity in actually competing and qualifying for the Games,” the doctor said.
“There are lots of aspects of physiology and anatomy, and the mental side, that contribute to an elite performance. It’s very difficult to say, ‘yes, she has an advantage because she went through male puberty,’ when there’s so many other factors to take into account,” Budgett said.
“It’s not simple,” he added. “Each sport has to make their own assessment depending on the physiology of that sport so that they can ensure there is fair competition, but also the inclusion of everyone – whether they’re male or female – so they are able to take part in the sport they love.”
Alternatively, sports scientist Ross Tucker went on BBC airwaves Monday to explain the advantages biological males have over women, irrespective of Hubbard’s Olympic outcome or even hormone therapy.
“The rules state that the athlete has to reduce their testosterone level,” the BBC presenter said of trans athletes. “In your view, Ross, is that enough to allow a trans woman to compete in an event like weightlifting?”
“The problem is that there’s an asymmetry where, once testosterone has done its job, and viewers will know what that job is — it’s basically the development of male characteristics which we see so prominently during puberty and adolescence, so we’re talking muscle, bone, decreased body fat, increased heart and lung size — all of which adds up to strength and performance advantages,” Tucker explained.
“Once those are laid down by testosterone’s effects you can’t undo them simply by lowering the testosterone level,” he said. “And there are now ample studies that have demonstrated this. And so, therefore, the conclusion is that even the suppression of testosterone, as is required, leaves behind a considerable residual advantage that then means it’s unfair to cross into the woman’s sport category.”