Biological Male Weightlifter Allowed To Compete In Women’s Division

It has been decided that New Zealand athlete Laurel Hubbard, who is a biological male that transitioned and now wishes to be considered a female, is allowed to compete in the women’s division for the Tokyo Olympics.

Back in May, before the decision was announced, a female Belgian weightlifter, Anna Vanbellinghen, called the possibility of Hubbard competing “like a bad joke.” Many critics agree as Hubbard has competed in weightlifting competitions in the men’s division as recently as 2013.

“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,” said Vanbellinghen.

Hubbard, 43, transitioned after puberty which most researchers agree should disqualify you from switching gender categories. Vanbellinghen said, “Anyone that has trained weightlifting at a high level knows this to be true in their bones: this particular situation is unfair to the sport and to the athletes.”

Hubbard’s statement said, “I am grateful and humbled by the kindness and support that has been given to me by so many New Zealanders,” said Hubbard. Hubbard went on to say, “When I broke my arm at the Commonwealth Games three years ago, I was advised that my sporting career had likely reached its end. But your support, your encouragement, and your aroha [love] carried me through the darkness.”

“The last eighteen 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.”

In 2015 the International Olympic Committee announced new rules that allowed biological males to compete in the women’s division as long as their “testosterone levels are below ten nanomoles per liter for at least 12 months before their first competition.” This doesn’t stop critics from pointing out that biological males have an advantage in their skeletal structure that doesn’t change when their testosterone levels fluctuate.

New Zealand gold medal winner Tracey Lambrechs said, “I’m quite disappointed, quite disappointed for the female athlete who will lose out on that spot. We’re all about equality for women in sport, but right now, that equality is being taken away from us.”

She said, “I’ve had female weightlifters come up to me and say, ‘what do we do?’ This isn’t fair; what do we do?’. Unfortunately, there’s nothing we can do because every time we voice it, we get told to be quiet.”


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