On the heels of the news that New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard — a biological male who identifies and competes as a female — is set to become the first-ever transgender athlete to compete in the Olympics, it appears some biological female athletes are none too pleased.
And their concerns apparently don't just fall on deaf ears; allegedly they're told to shut up about the unfairness of it all.
What are the details?
Former Olympic weightlifter Tracey Lambrechs said in regard to Hubbard, "We're all about equality for women in sport, but right now that equality is being taken away from us. 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," Australia's 7 News reported.
Lambrechs — who won a bronze medal for New Zealand at the 2014 Commonwealth Games — added that she's "quite disappointed, quite disappointed for the female athlete who will lose out on that spot," the station reported, citing TVNZ.
The New Zealand Olympic Committee isn't expected to name its weightlifting team until June, but 7 News reported that the country's Olympic weightlifting coach Simon Kent said the 43-year-old Hubbard has met the current criteria.
"The rules are in place, that's the playing field we're playing in, so that's how we're going to move forward," Kent said, according to the outlet, which cited TVNZ.
What's the background?
Hubbard — who lived as a male for 35 years — transitioned to female in 2012 and began winning competitions several years later.
Hubbard made a splash in 2017 after winning two silver medals in a women's world championship — and then in 2019 took home two gold medals and a silver medal in the women's competition at the Pacific Games in Samoa.
In 2015, IOC guidelines ruled that transgender athletes can compete as women if their testosterone levels are below 10 nanomoles per liter for at least 12 months before their first competition, Reuters reported.
But numerous scientists have criticized these guidelines, saying they do little to mitigate the biological advantages of those who have gone through puberty as males, including bone and muscle density, 7 News reported.
Here's Hubbard in action in early 2020:
🏆Laurel Hubbard Gold Medal (NZL) 126-144 Weightlifting World Cup Roma 2020 youtu.be
Australia's weightlifting federation tried blocking Hubbard from the 2018 Commonwealth Games, 7 News added, but organizers rejected the move. The outlet added that rival weightlifters and coaches at the Commonwealth Games also complained.
Hubbard suffered a ruptured elbow ligament while attempting a 291-pound lift at the 2018 event while Lambrechs finished fifth.
Lambrechs won bronze at the Commonwealth Games in 2014, and 7 News said she finished 13th in the lower weight division at the 2016 Rio Olympics.