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New Zealand Weightlifter Laurel Hubbard

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New Zealand Weightlifter Laurel Hubbard

New Zealand has named Laurel Hubbard to its women’s weightlifting roster for the upcoming Olympics in Tokyo, making her the first openly transgender athlete to compete in the games.

Hubbard, 43, will compete in the category for women over 87 kg, about 192 pounds.

“I am grateful and humbled by the kindness and support that has been given to me by so many New Zealanders,” Hubbard said in a statement on Monday. “When I broke my arm at the Commonwealth Games three years ago, I was advised that my sporting career had likely reached its end. But your support, your encouragement, and your aroha [love] carried me through the darkness.”

But her selection is not without controversy. Some argue that because Hubbard went through male puberty, she will have an unfair advantage over her competitors.

Hubbard has satisfied the IOC’s requirements for trans womenHubbard has met the International Olympic Committee’s requirements for athletes who transition from male to female. The requirements stipulate that the athlete must declare that her gender identity is female and can’t change that status for sports purposes for at least four years. The athlete’s testosterone level must stay below 10 nanomoles per liter of testosterone.

Those who transition from female to male are eligible to compete in the male category wi 

Hubbard transitioned to female eight years ago at age 35. Before her transition, Hubbard competed in men’s events, setting national records in junior competition, according to The Associated Press.thout restriction.

Hubbard’s inclusion will be a vital signal for trans youth, says Schuyler Bailar, a trans man who competed in Division I men’s swimming for four years at Harvard University.

“The power of inclusion, especially the power of visible inclusion, can be lifesaving,” Bailar says. “I know for me, not seeing other transgender athletes out there, especially other folks in swimming and just specifically trans people everywhere, I didn’t I didn’t think that I could exist, and I didn’t think I could be myself in my sport. And when I felt like I couldn’t be myself in my sport, I felt like I couldn’t be myself anywhere.”

A recent study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that even after a year of hormone therapy, trans women on average had an advantage over cisgender, or nontransgender, women.

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