The coming summer Olympics in Tokyo will make history by featuring transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard, who is favored to win the women’s medal for New Zealand.
According to The Guardian, while Hubbard’s presence on the New Zealand team has not been made official, “an International Weightlifting Federation insider confirmed to the Guardian that she would automatically qualify because of amended rules approved by the International Olympic Committee.”
“The insider said that while teams did not have to be named until 5 July, under the new qualification rules, which had come into effect after several competitions were lost because of the Covid-19 pandemic, Hubbard was sure of a place in Tokyo if fit,” reported the outlet. “It means Hubbard, who won silver at the 2017 world championships and was sixth after a severe injury in 2019, is almost certain to become the first transgender athlete to compete at an Olympics. And while she will be the oldest weightlifter at the Games, she will also have a genuine chance of a medal given her qualifying lifts rank her fourth out of the 14 qualifiers in the 87kg-plus super heavyweight category for Tokyo.”
Current IOC guidelines dictate that transgender athletes can participate in the female categories without undergoing surgery so long as their “total testosterone level in serum is kept below 10 nanomoles per litre for at least 12 months – a rule followed by the IWF.” Hubbard lived as a man for 35 years before identifying as a transgender woman and did not win international weightlifting titles until transitioning in 2012.
“The rules that enabled me to compete first went into effect in 2003,” Hubbard said after finishing second in 2017 world championships. “They are known as the Stockholm consensus with the IOC but I think even 10 years ago the world perhaps wasn’t ready for an athlete like myself – and perhaps it is not ready now. But I got the sense at least that people were willing to consider me for these competitions and it seemed like the right time to put the boots on and hit the platform.”
Former Olympic gold medalist Caitlyn Jenner, previously Bruce Jenner before identifying as transgender, has publicly stated their opposition to biological boys competing in women’s sports.
“This is a question of fairness,” Jenner told TMZ. “That’s why I oppose biological boys who are trans competing in girls’ sports in school.”
“It just isn’t fair and we have to protect girls’ sports in our schools,” Jenner continued.
In a statement last month, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) announced its unequivocal support for the transgender community and expressed no misgivings about the prospect of biological men outcompeting women in their given sport.
“The NCAA Board of Governors firmly and unequivocally supports the opportunity for transgender student-athletes to compete in college sports. This commitment is grounded in our values of inclusion and fair competition,” the NCAA said.