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Laurel Hubbard. Photo: Stanislav Krasilnikov\TASS via Getty Images

New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard made history on Monday as the first openly transgender female athlete to compete at the Olympics.

Why it matters: The presence of trans and nonbinary athletes at this year's Games has been celebrated by LGBTQ+ rights advocates, but stirred controversy among critics, who argue trans women have an unfair advantage even after taking hormones to lower their testosterone.

  • The science on that belief is inconclusive. Also, non-transgender women have a wide range of naturally occurring testosterone levels.
  • Hubbard, 43, competed in male weightlifting before transitioning at age 35. She qualified for the Tokyo Games in the 87+ kg category after completing the required rules for trans athletes, including suppressing her testosterone levels below a proscribed level (10 nmol/L) for at least a year.

The big picture: Hubbard failed to successfully complete any of her three lifts in the snatch portion of the event. She made a heart sign with her hands after her third lift and mouthed "thank you," making history even as she excited the Olympics early.

Photo: Ina Fried/Axios

What she's saying: Speaking to reporters after she competed, Hubbard thanked the New Zealand Olympic committee for its support in the lead up and during the Games. "I know my appearance has not been entirely without controversy," she said.

  • She also thanked the International Olympic Committee, saying its commitment "demonstrated that sport is something that all people around the world can do. It's inclusive, it's successful and I think that's just really fabulous."

Be smart: Athletes in Olympic weightlifting compete in two disciplines: snatch, followed by clean and jerk, with the highest combined totals earning the medals.

  • Hubbard was among 10 athletes competing tonight, along with several others who did their lifts earlier in the day.
  • China's Li Wenwen captured gold, setting a new Olympic record. Britain's Emily Jade Campbell took the silver and American Sarah Robles won bronze.
Photo: Ina Fried

Go deeper: Trans athletes see the Tokyo Games as a watershed moment

Editor's note: This story has been updated throughout.

Go deeper

Aug 28, 2021 - Sports

Afghan athletes arrive in Tokyo to compete in Paralympics

The flag of Afghanistan is presented by volunteers at the Paralympics. Photo: Marcus Brandt/picture alliance via Getty Images

Two Afghan athletes arrived in Tokyo on Saturday to compete in the Paralympics, after initially canceling plans to compete following Afghanistan's fall to the Taliban, per a statement from the International Paralympic Committee.

Driving the news: Zakia Khudadadi, a Taekwondo athlete, and track athlete Hossain Rasouli were evacuated from Kabul a week ago and landed in Tokyo on a flight from Paris on Saturday, per the IPC.

Aug 30, 2021 - Sports

The major highlights from Week 1 of the Paralympics

Nick Mayhugh. Photo: Moto Yoshimura/Getty Images

The 2020 Paralympics are halfway complete, with 4,403 athletes — including a record 1,853 women — putting on a show last week in Tokyo. Here are some of the Games' top stories:

  • 🥇 Medal count: China has by far the most medals (119), followed by Great Britain (65), the Russian Paralympic Committee (59), Ukraine (50) and the U.S. (48). Full medal table.

House passes $768 billion defense spending bill

Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The House approved a $768 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the 2022 fiscal year in a bipartisan 316-113 vote on Thursday.

Why it matters: The annual bill, which authorizes Pentagon spending levels and guides policy for the department, would require women to register for the military draft, among other provisions.