Now just four days away, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games will begin on Friday, July 23 and are sure to garner excitement from millions of people around the world. And yet, some competitors are heading into the games knowing their event is unfairly stacked against them.
This is the case for the women’s super-heavyweight 87-kilogram category, where 43-year-old biologically male weightlifter Laurel Hubbard will compete in the women’s competition.
Hubbard is set to become the first transgender-identified individual ever to compete in the Olympics after International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach reaffirmed that Hubbard will be allowed to compete in the event.
“The rules for qualification have been established by the International Weightlifting Federation before the qualifications started. These rules apply, and you cannot change rules during ongoing competitions,” President Bach recently said, according to Reuters.
However, the IOC president also insinuated that the current rules, which permit transgender-identified athletes to compete in events according to their gender identity under certain circumstances, may be revisited in the future.
“The IOC is in an inquiry phase with all different stakeholders… to review these rules and finally to come up with some guidelines which cannot be rules because this is a question where there is no one-size-fits-all solution. It differs from sport to sport,” he added.
According to Reuters, “The IOC had cleared the way in 2015 for transgender athletes to compete at the Games as women, provided their testosterone levels are below 10 nanomoles per litre for at least 12 months before their first competition.”
Some have pointed out that Hubbard did not begin “transitioning” until the age of 35, at which point his bone density and muscle mass were already that of a fully-grown male. Men naturally have greater bone density and muscle mass than women, which is why sex-segregated athletic competitions existed.
At least, up until now.
The Daily Citizen previously reported that some of Hubbard’s female competitors are speaking out, calling his participation in the women’s event “unfair.”
“Anyone that has trained weightlifting at a high level knows this to be true in their bones: this particular situation is unfair to the sport and to the athletes,” Anna Vanbellinghen, who will be competing in the same event as Hubbard in the Olympics, said.
Those who struggle with gender dysphoria deserve compassion and support. They should receive any counseling they need. But that doesn’t mean biological females, who have dedicated countless hours to their sports, should have opportunities and awards stolen by biological males.
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Photo from REUTERS