New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard is competing at the International Weightlifting Federation Weightlifting World Championships this week, and she’s creating quite a stir by doing so.
Only a couple transgender athletes have competed at high world-class levels in the past. Renée Richards was an entrant in the U.S. Open tennis tournament each year from 1977-1981, getting no further than the third round. Chris Mosier has competing in several World Duathlon Championships. Paddler Katalina Murrie competed in Canada’s Whitewater National Championships earlier this year.
Yet not everyone is happy about Hubbard’s place in history. In fact her teammate, Tracey Lambrechs, who is a Commonwealth Games medalist, has expressed disappointment that Hubbard is being allowed to compete at national and international levels.
"I feel there is an unfair advantage even though it is within all the regulations... all I can hope is that they look into it and make a more educated judgement," Lambrechs told Radio NZ.
Lambrechs is not alone. From floelite.com:
The inclusion of transgender women competing in weightlifting is a touchy subject for a lot of people, including the head of Australia's weightlifting federation, Michael Keenan, who has both admired Hubbard for being on the "cusp of making a lot of history" and also suggested that there are physiological and psychological advantages Hubbard may have due to having trained as a man for the first 30 years of her life.
As I’ve said for years, every athlete has advantages and disadvantages. Shaquille O’Neal has advantages in basketball over me that I will never be able to overcome.
Yet it’s only with trans-woman athletes that these natural distinctions are instantly deemed “unfair.”
We at Outsports wish Hubbard nothing but the best of luck and hope she succeeds wildly. Inclusion is and always be the most important value in sports at every level.
Hubbard is also expected to represent New Zealand at the Commonwealth Games in April. Given her trajectory, she very well may be competing in the Summer Olympic Games in 2020.