Laurel Hubbard set to become the first transgender athlete to compete at the Olympics

Laurel Hubbard set to become the first transgender athlete to compete at the Olympics

New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard is set to make history after being confirmed as the first transgender athlete to compete at an Olympic Games.

The 43-year-old will be a medal contender when she competes in the women’s super heavyweight category on 2 August. But Hubbard’s inclusion will spark outrage among her rivals who believe she has an unfair advantage, having gone through male puberty before transitioning in 2012.

Hubbard, who won silver at the 2017 world championships and finished sixth at the 2019 edition after recovering from a serious arm injury at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, said she was delighted to have been selected.

“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.

“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’ [affection] carried me through the darkness.

“The last 18 months has shown us all that there is strength in kinship, in community, and in working together towards a common purpose. The ‘mana’ [honour] of the silver fern comes from all of you and I will wear it with pride.”

Under International Olympic Committee guidelines issued in November 2015, athletes who transition from male to female are allowed to compete in the women’s category without requiring surgery to remove their testes, provided their total testosterone level in serum is kept below 10 nanomoles per litre for at least 12 months – a rule followed by the International Weightlifting Federation.

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