A female transgender weightlifter is set to compete for New Zealand in the upcoming Tokyo Olympic Games and looks set to be in serious contention for a medal, ahead of other female athletes.
Laurel Hubbard, who spent 35 years identifying as a man, never once competed at the international level in weightlifting as a man and quit the sport 20 years ago after his career dwindled out.
In 2015, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) passed a rule that allows transgender people who do not have a testosterone level higher than 10 nanomoles per liter 12 months before the start of the competition to compete at the Olympic Games.
Now, if selected for the Olympic team by New Zealand, Hubbard who is 43, will be on course for an Olympic medal for the first time.
Hubbard’s history and the unfairness of it all
Hubbard achieved a second-place finish in the 2017 World Championships, competing in the Women’s Super-Heavyweight division.
However, a serious elbow injury in early 2018 threatened their career.
After returning from injury, Hubbard ranked at only 16th in the world rankings.
In the 2019 World Championships, Hubbard finished 6th, however, thanks to a new Olympic rule change, three of the previous five weightlifters who finished higher will not be competing in Tokyo.
The new rule changes for the Tokyo Olympics mean that nations are only allowed to put forward one athlete per sport per gender, meaning that Hubbard will be in serious contention of winning a medal in the upcoming games.
However, Hubbard has one significant advantage in the race to win a medal in Tokyo, and that is his biology.
Remember, Hubbard was unable to make it at the international level of men’s weightlifting, but identifying as a woman now allows them to be in contention, is that right?
A dangerous precedent
Hubbard, as a male, lacked the ability and the physicality to be a world-class weightlifter on the international stage.
Fast forward to the present, Hubbard, as a 43-year-old woman, way past their physical prime, is still able to challenge for the top honors of the women’s sport.
Is that fair?
Hubbard winning a medal in Tokyo will simply be a crime, a biological male taking away a medal opportunity from a hardworking, female athlete.
Now, Hubbard is unlikely to win the gold, since there are weightlifters above him holding records that are much higher than his.
Nonetheless, the question of regularity still stands: If you paint a black horse with white stripes, does it make it a zebra? Well, many decided to pretend so.