First Openly Transgender Athlete to Compete Against Biological Women in Olympics

Laurel Hubbard — a biological male who identifies as female — is slated to become the first openly transgender athlete to compete in the Olympics after New Zealand selected the 43-year-old to participate in the Tokyo games.

Hubbard, who will be the oldest weightlifter to compete this summer, is “grateful and humbled by the kindness and support that has been given to me by so many New Zealanders,” the athlete stated, according to The Washington Post.

The weightlifter transitioned from male to female eight years ago. Prior to 2013, Hubbard participated in men’s competitions.

Hubbard became eligible to compete as a female in 2015, after showing a testosterone level below 10 nanomoles per liter for the preceding 12 months leading up to competing.

In a statement released Monday, New Zealand Olympic Committee CEO Kereyn Smith admitted “gender identity” in professional sports is a “highly sensitive and complex issue.” She did, however, note Hubbard has the support of the committee, which is dedicated to “inclusion and respect for all.”

The New Zealand government also expressed support for Hubbard.

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“Laurel is a member of New Zealand’s Olympic team,” said Minister for Sport and Recreation Grant Robertson. “We are proud of her as we are of all our athletes, and will be supporting her all the way.”

Hubbard has claimed since 2017 to have no advantage over biological females.

“Look,” the athlete said at the time, “I’ve heard that and I think it’s incredibly disrespectful to other competitors. I don’t believe there is any fundamental difference between me and the other athletes, and to suggest there is is slightly demeaning to them.”

Since transitioning, Hubbard has dominated women’s weightlifting.

The transgender athlete has set four national weightlifting records for New Zealand and has unseated Tracey Lambrechs, a former Olympic weightlifter, as the top female competitor in their weight class.

Hubbard’s presence in the Olympics comes just a couple of months after the NCAA announced it stands “unequivocally” with transgender athletes competing on the teams that correspond to the sexes with which they identity.

The organization dismissed any concerns about biological males outperforming biological females based on immutable characteristics.

“The NCAA Board of governors firmly and unequivocally supports the opportunity for transgender student-athletes to compete in college sports,” the organization stated in April. “This commitment is grounded in our values of inclusion and fair competition.”

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