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Support and protest for Laurel Hubbard at Commonwealth Games

The transgender weightlifter has endured controversy since she began competing.

Laurel Hubbard Portrait Session
Laurel Hubbard is a trailblazing transgender weightlifter for New Zealand.
Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images

Laurel Hubbard has had to endure endless attacks against her fitness to compete. Now, as she prepares to compete in the Commonwealth Games, the attacks are heating up.

The Samoan weightlifting contingent is the latest to protest Hubbard’s participation in the weightlifting competition, saying she is a man.

“A man is a man and a woman is a woman and I know a lot of changes have gone through, but in the past Laurel Hubbard used to be a male champion weightlifter,” Samoan weightlifting coach Jerry Wallwork told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Hubbard has faced official protests from Australia, and various other competitors have attacked her participation in weightlifting. Despite claims she “can’t be beaten,” Hubbard did not win gold at the World Championships last year.

To be clear, Hubbard has met the International Olympic Committee’s qualifications for transgender women to compete.

Others are accepting her participation.

Columnist Kris Shannon finds Hubbard’s presence at the Commonwealth Games to be an inspiration.

“No other athlete shines as bright a beacon for inspiration and equality as Hubbard,” Shannon wrote in calling for her to be the Kiwi flag-bearer to close the Games. “And no other athlete at these Games is as important, given the gradual fight for LGBT rights in and outside of sport.”

Paul Coffa, secretary general of the Oceania Weightlifting Institute, has said he believes Hubbard should be allowed to compete.

“You can’t stop criticism, but I see it differently, she’s done what she’s required to do, so give her a chance and let her continue,” Coffa told ABC.

As we’ve written previously, Hubbard has a good chance of being the first publicly out transgender athlete to compete at the Olympics, when Tokyo hosts the Summer Games in 2020.