Society

Transgender Weightlifter's Victory Is Legitimate

| by Shani Shahmoon

Over the weekend, New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard won an international competition and set a new national record as a trans-woman, bringing about concern from spectators and sports aficionados.

According to The New Zealand Herald, Hubbard lifted a combined total of 590 pounds at the Australian International in the country's capital, Melbourne. She won by lifting 41 more pounds than silver-medalist Luniarra Simpaia of Samoa, with Australia's Kaitlyn Fassina coming in close at 491 pounds, claiming the bronze.

Hubbard's new record and outright barrier-breaking win falls in line with the International Olympic Committee's most recent update on policy regarding transgender athletes, and therefore should not be put into question.

In January 2016, IOC released new guidelines involving transgender athletes after their November meeting titled, " IOC Consensus Meeting on Sex Reassignment and Hyperandrogenism," Outsports writes.

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Regarding Hubbard's case, she had followed every protocol expected of all international, renowned athletes, as detailed by the IOC's guidelines.

The guidelines for athletes of her type insist that she declare her gender identity as female, and must not change it for at least four years. Additionally, as a male-to-female transitioning athlete, she must show that her testosterone level has been below a certain level for at least a year before her first competition. And all the while, through this personal and emotional experience, she still agreed to have her transition monitored via testing by athletic governing bodies, which is required.

Hubbard followed all the rules and won her division -- that's all there is to it.

Gary Marshall, the president of Olympic Weightlifitng New Zealand, said in an interview, "We have to follow the policy of the International Olympic Committee and the International Weightlifting Federation. They do not acknowledge in any way the gender identity of an athlete other than male or female; they're not described as transgender."

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While Marshall does seem to defend Hubbard, he does so in an apologetic way.

The reality is, the IOC's rules are merely recommendations for international sports federations, The Guardian explains. As IOC medical director Dr. Richard Budgett describes it, "This is a scientific consensus paper, not a rule or regulation."

“It is the advice of the medical and scientific commission and what we consider the best advice," he added

This scientific claim states that by following these rules, it remains a clear and fair competition.

Therefore, Hubbard complied with all necessary requirements in order to even out the playing field between her and her fellow-female competitors.

The IOC's change of policy came after a much-needed wake up call.

Prior to these guidelines, the IOC required sex reassignment surgeries and two years of hormone therapy in order to compete in the opposite sex's category.

Hubbard began her transition in her mid-30s, The New Zealand Herald explains. She should be able to leave her past identity as male national weightlifter Gavin Hubbard behind her.

We should be teaching athletes that hard work and following the rules wins medals. 

Click here for the opposing view on this topic.

Sources: The Guardian, The New Zealand Herald, IOC, Outsports / Photo credit: News.com.au via The New Zealand Herald

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