A New Zealand woman has become the first transgender athlete to be selected to compete in the Olympics — a decision that is expected to launch debate about gender identity in sports.
Weightlifter Laurel Hubbard, 43, who was born male but transitioned to female, was picked to participate in the upcoming summer games in Tokyo, New Zealand Olympic Committee chief Kereyn Smith said in a Monday statement.
“We acknowledge that gender identity in sport is a highly sensitive and complex issue requiring a balance between human rights and fairness on the field of play,” Smith said in a statement.
“As the New Zealand team, we have a strong culture of manaaki (caring) and inclusion and respect for all.”
Hubbard transitioned in her 30s and had previously competed as a male weightlifter. She became eligible to lift in the Olympics as a woman after her testosterone levels dropped below a certain required threshold.
“I am grateful and humbled by the kindness and support that has been given to me by so many New Zealanders… your support, your encouragement, and your aroha (love) carried me through the darkness,” Hubbard said in a statement.
Critics of Hubbard have argued she has unfair advantage competing against other women.
Former teammate Tracey Lambrechs said in an interview last month that many fellow female weightlifters have concerns that are being ignored.
“I’ve had female weightlifters come up to me and say ‘This isn’t fair, what can we do?’,” she told broadcaster TVNZ.
“Unfortunately there’s nothing we can do because every time we voice [concerns] we get told to be quiet.”
With Post wires