Laurel Hubbard from New Zealand is the first-ever transgender athlete to compete at the Olympics. She has brought revolution and created history as a transgender athlete to confirm her participation at the Olympics. Her confirmation of the Olympics has been a matter of controversy many times but overcame everything with determination. She definitely inspired a lot of people from the LGBTQ+ community to come forward and follow their passion. The 43-year-old is selected for the women’s 87-kg weightlifting team for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
“I am grateful and humbled by the kindness and support that has been given to me by so many New Zealanders,” Hubbard said in a statement by the New Zealand Olympic Committee on Monday.
In 2012, she came out as transgender in front of the world. Before that, she participated in men’s events. Laurel Hubbard lived as a male for 35 years, and during that time he did not engage in international weightlifting.
Controversies related to her participation in the Olympics
In 2012, she transitioned into a female and her competing in the Olympics after transitioning has created a lot of controversies among a lot of people. She got selected under the female category because she fulfilled all the eligibility criteria to participate in the Olympics. Still, many critics pointed out that this might create a setback for female-born athletes because Laurel has biological advantages. Laurel went through puberty and secondary development as males which stand for more muscle strength and bone density.
Save Women’s Sports Australasia stood against and criticized transgender athletes participating in the women’s categories.
“It is flawed policy from the IOC that has allowed the selection of a 43-year-old biological male who identifies as a woman to compete in the female category,” they stated Laurel’s selection.
Belgian weightlifter, Anna Vanbellinghen, mentioned in the last month that it will be unfair for women in the same category. She also showed her support for the transgender comedy community but made it clear that including someone from the community can expense others’ opportunities.
Also, her selection was criticized by Tracey Lambrechs, the former New Zealand representative athlete.
Support towards Laurel Hubbard
There is a ray of sunshine after every dark day. Similarly, even after so many controversies, Laurel got support from a lot of dignified and well-recognized people. Starting from the New Zealand government to her competitor Charisma Amoe-Tarrant. The New Zealand Government supported and backed her completely. They supported her at every moment. Kereyn Smith, New Zealand Olympic Committee Chief Executive also mentioned that Laurel got the opportunity by fulfilling every eligibility criteria including the ones for transgender athletes. And the New Zealand team supports and respects everyone and follows the culture of ‘manaaki’.
Richie Patterson, the head of Olympic Weightlifting New Zealand vouched for her and shown immense support towards her.
Past Controversies at International levels
Her participation in the Olympics is not the first time when she got trapped in the web of controversies. Just because she is capable of winning the gold medal this time in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics does not raise controversies all of a sudden.
It is true that she withdrew from the 2018 Commonwealth Games due to an injury but before that, Australia’s weightlifting federation tried to exclude her from the competition. Only due to the support of the organization, Laurel could continue in the Commonwealth Games. But bad luck followed her and she suffered an injury. She beat Samoa’s athlete to win the gold medal in the 2019 Pacific games and got criticized once again. Also, Samoa’s weightlifting boss falsely alleged the New Zealand’s selection committee for doping their athletes.
Her Success at international levels
She won the first rank in several international weightlifting competitions. In 2017 World Masters games, 2019 Pacific Games, 2017 and 2019 Commonwealth Championships, 2017 and 2019 Oceania Championships she won the first rank.