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Laurel Hubbard to make history as first out trans Olympian

Weightlifter Laurel Hubbard will compete in the upcoming Tokyo Olympics, with International Olympic Committee (IOC) officials upholding her eligibility.

Hubbard has competed in women’s weightlifting since 2017, following gender transition several years prior. 

She has since faced criticism and calls for her to be banned from women’s events.

In 2018, she became the first trans athlete to represent New Zealand at the Commonwealth Games, after calls for her to be banned from competing were overruled.

The International Weightlifting Federation ruled that she met all the criteria to compete as a woman and that her trans status was irrelevant.

A Human Rights Commission spokesperson at the time said that trans women with typical female levels of testosterone, such as Hubbard, hold no unfair physical advantage.

“Laurel is a woman – not a man masquerading as a woman to gain medals or glory,” they said.

On Saturday, the IOC announced that Hubbard is eligible to compete under the current rules, Reuters has reported.

“The rules for qualification have been established by the International Weightlifting Federation before the qualifications started,” said IOC President Thomas Bach. 

“These rules apply, and you cannot change rules during ongoing competitions.”

Bach said that the application of equal rules was crucial for Olympians.

“This is what all the athletes of the world are relying on: that the rules are being applied,” he said.

He said that the IOC was now in an “inquiry phase” and that the regulations may be updated.

The IOC opened the possibility of trans women athletes competing in 2015, ruling that they would be eligible subject to their blood testosterone level.

After sustaining an elbow ligament injury and withdrawing from the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, Hubbard competed at the 2019 Arafura Games in Darwin, where she failed to make a successful lift.

The Tokyo Olympics open this Friday 23 July.

The Games are the first to have been postponed, due to the global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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