The transgender debate in women’s sport has reignited after New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard won two gold medals at the recent Pacific Games, being accused of “robbing” fellow competitors of victory.
Hubbard, 41, was born as Gavin before transitioning in her 30s, and picked up double gold in the women’s over-87kg (192lbs) category at the Samoa 2019 games over the weekend.
The New Zealander claimed the overall title on 268kg, ahead of Samoans Feagaiga Stowers on 261kg and Iuniana Sipai on 255kg.
Hubbard is eligible to compete after meeting International Olympic Committee (IOC) criteria regarding testosterone levels for transgender athletes.
But the gold medal haul has been met with anger from Samoa 2019 organizers and many online.
Samoa 2019 chairman Loau Solamalemalo Keneti Sio said Hubbard’s success was “not fair to women weightlifters.”
“There is nothing we can do about it,”Loau said.
“We all know that it is not fair to the women lifters but that is a reality we face in the world of sports.
“The rules have changed and we cannot deviate from these rules. The IOC and IWF [International Weightlifting Federation] do not discriminate against transgender athletes and while this may be hard to accept, we must learn to adapt to these rules because it will not change for anyone.”
The online backlash was even stronger as Hubbard and officials were accused of stealing opportunities from female weightlifters.
Men are better at being women than women are. Or this is a ridiculous trend destroying women’s sports.
— Keith Barrett (@KeithBarrett) July 16, 2019
Hubbard was the first New Zealander to win a medal at the Weightlifting World Championships in 2017, and was also considered the favorite in the women’s heavyweight category at last year’s Commonwealth Games before being forced out through injury.
She is currently bidding for a place on the New Zealand team at the 2020 Tokyo Olmypics.
Hubbard almost sealed a third gold at the Pacific Games over the weekend, but failed with a final lift in the clean and jerk, allowing home favorite Sepaia to win.
That drew cheers from the crowd, with Hubbard responding by blowing them a kiss while leaving the stage.