Updated Aug 3, 2021 - Sports

Transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard: "It gets better"

New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard became the first openly transgender woman to compete in the Olympics.
New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard became the first openly transgender woman to compete in the Olympics. Ina Fried/Axios

Laurel Hubbard, speaking to reporters after becoming the first openly transgender woman to compete in the Olympics, on Tuesday expressed gratitude for the opportunity to compete as an athlete and convince transgender people to work through adversity.

What she's saying: "All I have ever really wanted as an athlete is just to be regarded as an athlete," Hubbard, said in response to a question from Axios. "I suppose the thing I have been so grateful here in Tokyo is just being given those opportunities to just go through life as any other athlete."

Details: Hubbard met for about half an hour with a small group of journalists at a Tokyo hotel on Tuesday, hours after competing in the women's +87 Kg weightlifting competition. She exited after being unsuccessful in her first three lifts.

Between the lines: Asked what message she had for fellow transgender people, Hubbard said: "My message is simply this: Life is difficult. There are always setbacks and disappointments, but if there is one message to go for, it is this, it gets better."

  • Hubbard said she has tried not to dwell on negative attention from from traditional and social media, "because it makes a hard job even harder."
"It's hard enough lifting a barbell but if you are putting more weight on it, then it makes it just an impossible task, really."
ā€” Transgender Olympian Laurel Hubbard, to reporters on Friday.

What's next: Hubbard said she doesn't know whether she plans to continue competing.

  • "I think in order to get to this level of competition you have to be exceptionally single minded. That doesn't really leave a lot of room to think about what comes next. Working toward those answers is something that starts today. We'll just have to see."

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Editor's note: This article has been updated with further comment from Hubbard and to embed the YouTube video.

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