Transgender Weightlifter’s Appearance at the Olympic Games Causes Disputes
By Sophia Mao
Laurel Hubbard, a transgender female athlete from New Zealand, returned to weightlifting in 2017 after a 10 year break. Next Monday, August 9th, she will compete in the women’s heavyweight competition. As the first openly transgender women to compete in the Olympics, naturally there are discussions over the fairness of her participation.
Athletes and fair-sport campaigners have questioned whether it would be fair for her to compete, since she’s biologically a male. Others believe that Hubbard competing is a good thing. “It’s not my role or my goal to change people’s minds,” Hubbard said during a 2017 news radio interview. She doesn’t think she’s a flag bearer for transgender athletes.
However, her participation in the Olympics is significant for the transgender community for the representation in sports and influence on the younger part of the community. Many supporters cheered for her arrival. Chris Mosier, the first openly transgender man to compete in an Olympic trial, stated that “this moment is incredibly significant for the trans community.”
On the other hand, many of her opponents think that Hubbard is at an unfair advantage. Piers Morgan, a conservative British competitor, said that Hubbard has an unfair physical advantage. One of Hubbard’s competitors went as far as to calling her a “bad joke” because they thought that it was unfair.
Fortunately, Hubbard seems to be doing well despite the backlash. She said in a brief statement that she had been “humbled by the kindness and support” of her fans and country.
Today, there are over a dozen states that have banned transgender athletes in women’s sports. Many states are also considering it. However, transgender women can still compete if they complete at least a year of testosterone suppression treatment.
Transgender participation in sports will probably continue to be a debated topic for a long time, but right now nothing is stopping Laurel Hubbard from achieving her Olympic dream and ambition.