The Olympic Games is set to have its first transgender competitor in a decision branded “unfair” and “like a bad joke”.
Laurel Hubbard, previously called Gavin, has been selected by the New Zealand Olympic Committee to compete in the women’s super-heavyweight 87-kg category at the Olympic Games this summer.
Hubbard previously competed in men’s weightlifting before living as a woman. In 2017, he won gold in the Australian International competition in the women’s event after lifting almost 20kg more than the female runner-up.
Former Olympic swimmer Sharron Davies MBE tweeted: “We have men & women’s separate competition 4a BIG reason, biology in sport matters.
“Separate categories give females equal opportunities of sporting success”.
Belgian weightlifter Anna Vanbellinghen, who may have to compete against Hubbard, said it is “like a bad joke”.
She added: “Life-changing opportunities are missed for some athletes – medals and Olympic qualifications – and we are powerless.”
Athletes are currently permitted to compete in women’s events on the basis of their testosterone levels.
But writing in The Times, sports scientist Ross Tucker said that in cases of testosterone suppression for over a year, “measures such as total mass, bone density, muscle mass and muscle strength are either unchanged, or removed by only a fraction of the initial male vs female advantage”.
He concluded that “fairness cannot be guaranteed to biological females by the current inclusion policies”.
Last month, a New Zealand Commonwealth Games bronze medallist said that female competitors were silenced when they voiced concerns that a man may be selected to compete at the Olympic Games in the women’s event.
Tracey Lambrechs reflected: “I’ve had female weightlifters come up to me and say, ‘what do we do? This isn’t fair, what do we do?’ Unfortunately, there’s nothing we can do because every time we voice it we get told to be quiet.”