Laurel Hubbard, a weightlifter from New Zealand, may have swept away the competition to win first prize at the Australian International weightlifting tournament in Melbourne this past wekeend, but her status as a male-to-female transgender woman has raised the ire of her competitors.
According to the New Zealand Herald, Hubbard set four new national records during her performance in the over-90 kilogram (198 pounds) category, eventually lifting 268 kilograms (591 pounds) by the end of it, beating the runner-up by 40 pounds.
Hubbard competed in the same category against men before her transition. Now that she has fully transitioned, she is competing in the women’s division and hopes to qualify for and advance to the next Olympic Games in 2020.
However, not everyone has enjoyed Hubbard’s success, including Australian Kaitlyn Fassina, who won the bronze medal in the same category this past weekend for lifting 223 kilograms (492 pounds).
“She is who she is. That’s the way the politics…and what the New Zealanders have decided,” Fassina told Stuff.co.nz. “I can’t say much more than that. She is seen as female and that’s the way it is.”
Her teammate, two-time Olympian Deborah Acason, had some stronger words, telling Stuff.co.nz, “If I was in that category I wouldn’t feel like I was in an equal situation. I just feel that if it’s not even why are we doing the sport?”
Garry Marshall, president of Olympic Weightlifting New Zealand, told the New Zealand Herald that despite her competitors’ feelings on the matter, his organization’s stance is decided.
“We have to follow the policy of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF),” Marshall said. “They do not acknowledge in any way the gender identity of an athlete other than male or female; they’re not described as transgender.”
A transgender women “must demonstrate that her total testosterone level in serum has been below 10 [nanomoles per litre] for at least 12 months prior to her first competition” in order to compete as a woman, according to the IOC rules issued in 2015.
Hubbard met these qualifications and is now the first transgender athlete to represent New Zealand.
Next, read about the recent decision allowing transgender boys to finally join the Boy Scouts of America, as well as France’s new push to stop sterilizing transgender people.