For the first time, a transperson will compete in the women’s competition at the Tokyo Olympics

New Zealand athlete Lorel Hubard has become the first transgender to take part in the Olympics since she joined the New Zealand weightlifting team. The inclusion of Hubard has already been criticized, but there is no shortage of advocates, the BBC reports.

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The 43-year-old Hubard will compete in the weight class up to 87 kilograms, and she has a good chance of winning a medal. As the rules of the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) stipulate that there can be only one national representative in each weight category, and countries also have a total quota of participants, Hubard will have fewer competitors than, for example, in other competitions.

Hubard was paved the way for the Olympics by a 2015 decision by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that allows a man to compete in a women’s race after gender reassignment, as long as testosterone levels in the body are below a certain threshold. True, critics point out that the inclusion of transgender women in weightlifting is more unfair, because the age of puberty is important in this sport, when the physiological parameters of bones and muscles are strengthened. Hubard was a man of puberty, competed in men’s competitions for a long time, but only in 2013 he openly announced himself as a transgender.

Hubard’s participation in the competition has already been ambiguous. In 2019, she won the Pacific Games, which angered the home Samoa team. The head of the Samoa Weightlifting Federation has already compared Hubard’s participation to doping.

In 2018, the Australian Weightlifting Federation tried to prevent Hubard from being allowed to start the Commonwealth Games, but a New Zealand athlete was allowed to participate. True, he did not finish the race because he was injured.

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Belgian weightlifter Anna Vanbelinghen, who starts in the same weight category, said some time ago that admitting Hubard to the Olympics would be unfair to women and a “bad joke”. She added that while she fully supports the transgender community, the principle of inclusion should not be “at the expense of others” “All those who have trained in weightlifting at the highest level is well aware that the “truth” is in the bones: this situation is unfair to sports and other athletes. “

Hubard is fully supported not only by the New Zealand sports leadership but also by the national government.

“In addition to being one of the best in the world in her category, Laurel has met the IWF eligibility criteria, including those based on the IOC Consensus Statement Guidelines for Transgender Athletes,” said Kerene Smith, Executive Director of the New Zealand Olympic Committee. “We recognize that gender identity in sport is a very sensitive and complex issue that requires a balance between human rights and fair play. We as a New Zealand team have a strong ‘manaaki’ (respect) for inclusion in society and respect for all.”

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