Transgender weightlifter set to participate in Tokyo Olympics
For the very first time, a transgender athlete will compete in the summer Olympics. 43-year-old Laurel Hubbard, born male, has been selected to the New Zealand women's weightlifting team to compete in the women's 87-kilogram division.
Some critics are criticizing the situation as unfair to other athletes. Despite this, International Olympic Committee has specific guidelines for transgender athletes to compete -- testosterone levels must be below a certain level -- and Hubbard has met the criteria since 2015.
The CEO of the New Zealand Olympic Committee, Kereyn Smith, issued a statement Monday supporting Hubbard. "We acknowledge that gender identity in sport is a highly sensitive and complex issue requiring a balance between human rights and fairness on the field of play," Smith said. "As the New Zealand Team, we have a strong culture of manaaki and inclusion and respect for all. We are committed to supporting all eligible New Zealand athletes and ensuring their mental and physical wellbeing, along with their high-performance needs, while preparing for and competing at the Olympic Games are met.”
Not everyone is happy. Belgian weightlifter Anna Vanbellinghen called Hubbard's qualifying situation "unfair" and a "bad joke."
Hubbard, commenting on his approval to participate, commented: "I am grateful and humbled by the kindness and support that has been given to me by so many New Zealanders. The last 18 months has shown us all that there is strength in kinship, in community, and in working together towards a common purpose. The mana of the silver fern comes from all of you and I will wear it with pride.”
The Olympics are set to begin late in July on the 23rd, after having been delayed from last year.