Source: Amanda Prestigiacomo
New Zealand transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard competed and failed Monday in women’s +87kg weightlifting at the Tokyo Olympics.
In Hubbard’s first attempt, the weightlifter tried to lift 120kg and failed. In the 43-year-old’s second attempt, Hubbard lifted a very shaky 125kg.
As noted by one of the female commentators, it was very surprising that the questionable 125kg lift wasn’t challenged with an appeal.
On the third attempt, Hubbard could not lift the 125kg, bouncing the weightlifter from the competition.
That is “the end of Laurel Hubbard,” the announcer said, as Hubbard waved to the cameras and to those at the competition.
Hubbard, a biological male, formerly competed against male weightlifters before the athlete identified as a woman and was allowed access to female competitions. At 43 years old, Hubbard is far older than any of the other female competitors.
Unsurprisingly, permitting biologically male transgender athletes to compete against biological women has been opposed by huge portions of the population.
Many female athletes and some famed feminists have spoken out against separating sports based on gender identity instead of biological sex, highlighting how females have lost out on opportunities because of the biological advantages males have over females, even post-trans hormone therapy, as a British Journal of Sports Medicine study suggests.
Female weightlifter Anna Vanbellinghen has spoken out about the issue, likening the prospect of competing against Hubbard to “a bad joke.”
“I understand that for sports authorities nothing is as simple as following your common sense, and that there are a lot of impracticalities when studying such a rare phenomenon, but for athletes the whole thing feels like a bad joke,” Vanbellinghem said.
Hubbard, though, has had support from the Olympics.
International Olympic Committee (IOC) medical and science director Dr. Richard Budgett last week praised the trans weightlifter and claimed “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.”