May 6, 2021 - Sports

Laurel Hubbard to become first transgender athlete to compete in Olympics

Picture of New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard, a transgender woman, lifting weights.

Photo: Scott Barbour/Getty Images

New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard is set to become the first transgender Olympian after qualifying for this summer's Tokyo Games.

The state of play: Hubbard, 43, has effectively been guaranteed a spot in the women's super heavyweight category after the IOC amended qualifying rules due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Hubbard competed in men's weightlifting until she transitioned in 2012, and she's been eligible to compete as a woman since 2015, when the IOC issued new guidelines.
  • Those guidelines allow transgender athletes to compete as women as long as their testosterone levels are below 10 nanomoles per liter for at least 12 months before their first competition.

The backdrop: Hubbard's gold medal wins at the 2019 Pacific Games in Samoa triggered outrage, and Australia's weightlifting federation unsuccessfully sought to block her from competing in 2018.

Go deeper: The debate over trans inclusion in federally funded athletics

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