The New Zealand Olympic Committee has named Laurel Hubbard as part of the contingent of 12 athletes selected to represent New Zealand at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, with Hubbard becoming New Zealand’s first transgender Commonwealth athlete
The New Zealand Olympic Committee has named Laurel Hubbard as part of the contingent of 12 athletes selected to represent New Zealand at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, with Hubbard becoming New Zealand’s first transgender Commonwealth athlete.
She will be the sole lifter in the over 90kg category during the games, which will be held on Australia’s Gold Coast.
The selection of a transgender weightlifter in the team has been criticised by some rivals and a New Zealand teammate, who say her previous experience competing as a man gives her an unfair advantage.
Chief Executive of the Australian Weightlifting Federation, Michael Keelan, said Hubbard would have a mental and physiological advantage over female opponents, having lifted certain weights before as a male athlete.
As Gavin, Hubbard held the New Zealand record in the men’s 105kg class, before her transition in her mid-30s.
Tracey Lambrechs, a New Zealand teammate and bronze medallist in the 90kg plus division at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2006, also questioned the selection.
She has quit to join a lower weight division, as she could not compete against Hubbard.
She said she would support Hubbard as a teammate but asked world weightlifting authorities to reconsider the issue of transgender competitors.
The International Olympic Committee and International Weightlifting Federation have cleared Hubbard to compete in the female division after she met strict criteria on testosterone levels.
At the Australian Open in Melbourne in March, 2017 she won the international weightlifting title, the first transgender New Zealand athlete to do so.
Speaking to Australian Associated Press, Keelan said: “We're in a power sport which is normally related to masculine tendencies … where you've got that aggression, you've got the right hormones, then you can lift bigger weights.
“If you've been male and you've lifted certain weights and then you suddenly transition to female, then psychologically you know you've lifted those weights before.”
Lambrechs said: “I feel there is an unfair advantage even though it is within the regulations.
“All I can hope is that they look into it and make a more educated judgement.”
Read More: Lewis Brooks at the Royal Commonwealth Society looks at the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens in the Commonwealth and discusses progress in building a more modern, inclusive Commonwealth approach to the issue