Weightlifter Laurel Hubbard a Reluctant Trailblazer

Aucklander Laurel Hubbard, 43, is preparing to become the first transgender athlete to compete at the Olympics, reigniting debate on one of the most divisive issues in sport, Agence France-Presse reports for a story recently published by the South China Morning Post.

The weightlifter is softly spoken and intensely shy, insisting during rare media interviews that she just wants to be left alone to pursue her sport.

Yet Hubbard’s presence at the Tokyo Games beginning next month promises to be seismic, bringing into the Olympic arena an issue that challenges sport’s traditional binary categories of male and female, AFP reports.

Bioethicist Lynley Anderson, who along with physiologist Alison Heather was part of a University of Otago team that released a paper examining the issue in 2019, said it might be time to examine dropping the binary male-female method of categorising athletes.

“Maybe we can’t necessarily shoehorn everyone into these two categories? Maybe we haven’t got it right and should rethink the categories,” Anderson said. “So it’s not trans people who are the problem … it’s the structure we currently have.”

Original article by Agence France-Presse, South China Morning Post, June 24, 2021.

Tags: 2020 Summer Olympics  Agence France-Presse (AFP)  Alison Heather  Laurel Hubbard  Lynley Anderson  South China Morning Post  weightlifting  

  • Barbara Duckett - 5:01 pm on July 19th, 2021
    it is a seriously BAD day when mediocre men can still get to go to the Olympics, a prestigious sporting event, by claiming they are female. This deny women the chance to compete against their peers, other women of equal ability, If trans what evers want to compete then they should establish their own peer group and compete honestly against each other. this is cheating and nothing more.
  • Terri Lipanovic - 8:20 pm on July 18th, 2021
    This is a male with higher testosterone than any female competitor, combined with higher bone and muscle density, larger heart and lungs, better hip and knee rotation etc. All in all, just a cheat.
  • Ange Neale - 2:06 pm on July 18th, 2021
    Can anyone come up with the name of a male weightlifter - no, let's make it a male in any sport - who is still competitive at age 43 against elite male competitors in their 20s without cheating? We'll wait. This is fraudulent, and it's as big a blemish on NZ's and weightlifting's sporting characters as the bloody underarm bowling thing was for Australia's sporting integrity. Weightlifting should have adopted World Athletics' 5nmol/l limit, and the IOC needs to re-visit this issue as soon as the Tokyo Games are done and dusted. Shame, NZ, shame. And for the record, while I live in Aus, I remain a proud NZer in all situations except this.
  • Yolanda Vorster - 12:31 am on July 18th, 2021
    Any 47 year old female would be perimenopausal and not able to compete against 20 somethings. Since Hubbard has an abundance of testosterone and experienced male puberty, these factors will be a great benefit for some years to come. Hubbard is old enough to be the parent of some of these natal born women and the grandad to their offspring too!
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