December 9, 2021

New Zealand super heavyweight weightlifter could become first openly transgender Olympic athlete

Laurel Hubbard is currently ranked 16th in the world

Forty-three-year-old transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard will almost certainly represent New Zealand in the women’s super heavyweight category at the Tokyo Olympic Games.

Hubbard won a silver at the 2017 world championships and is currently ranked 16th in the world in her category.

If she attends, she will be the first transgender athlete to compete in the Olympics.

Hubbard lived as a man for 35 years and never qualified for international weightlifting competitions. But since transitioning in 2012 she has won several titles including two gold medals at the 2019 Pacific Games in Samoa and a gold at the Roma 2020 World Cup in Rome.

The sport of weightlifting follows the International Olympic Committee's guidelines on transgender athletes. Trans woman athletes must declare their gender and not change it for four years; their testosterone level must be less than 10 nanomoles per litre for at least one year prior to competition and throughout the period of eligibility. Athletes who transition from female to male are allowed to compete without restrictions.

Michael Cook is editor of BioEdge   

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