New Zealander Laurel Hubbard is a pioneer as a transgender athlete, competing and winning in the highly competitive world of female weightlifting. But her successes, most recently taking home two silver medals at the World Weightlifting Championships, have been tarnished by questions regarding the unfair advantages male-to-female athletes may have in strength-based sports.
The argument has less to do with the nature of the transition process than muscle memory and the resulting psychological advantage that Hubbard potentially has. Formally competing as Gavin Hubbard, he set New Zealand national records and was a major figure in New Zealand weightlifting, eventually becoming an executive officer for Olympic Weightlifting New Zealand.
Hubbard is a woman in every sense and, having undergone a complete transition and been tested on multiple occasions, officials are happy that she satisfies testosterone and physical requirements - it should also be noted that this a long process, with testosterone measured over a 12 month period.)
But the thing is, Hubbard has lifted as a man and may have a physical and psychological advantage as a result. Muscles have not been changed through the transition and despite being greatly weakened through estrogen treatment it is claimed that they still retain the cellular knowledge of how to lift heavier weights than any other competitors.
This is a difficult argument, with the sporting bodies not wanting to be seen as discriminatory, but also seeking to maintain a fair playing field for all athletes. With Hubbard confirming she will be competing at the Olympics and the Commonwealth Games, any action that needs to be taken to protect the sport's reputation, one way or the other, will have to happen fast.
"I think the world has changed enough," transgender weightlifting champ Laurel Hubbard told us today in her first interview addressing the controversy of her selection to represent New Zealand in the Commonwealth Games. "Not everyone supports me, not everyone accepts me but there are people out there that do. I just hope ... that they treat people like me with respect." 1 NEWS Sport's Matthew Manukia will have the full story tonight at 6.More: http://bit.ly/2iDC9pt
Posted by 1 NEWS on Thursday, December 7, 2017
"I think the world has changed enough, Not everyone supports me, not everyone accepts me but there are people out there that do. I just hope ... that they treat people like me with respect."
-1 NEWS Sport's Matthew Manukia