By Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw
The first ever transgender athlete has been selected to compete in the forthcoming Tokyo Olympic Games, which, it has just been announced, will take place with up to 10,000 domestic spectators at venues, provided they do not exceed 50% of the venues’ capacity, despite warnings by health authorities about the Corona Virus.
Laurel Hubbard, who is 43-years old, will compete in the New Zealand weightlifting team in the 87-kg weightlifting category.
Hubbard came out as transgender in 2013, prior to which she had competed in men’s events.
In 2015, the International Olympic Committee changed the rules allowing transgender athletes to compete as women, provided their testosterone levels are below a certain threshold. Hubbard meets this requirement.
Testosterone is a hormone that increases bone density and muscle mass.
Hubbard’s selection has been criticised as giving her an unfair advantage, having gone through puberty as a male, over her female born competitors,.
Others have welcomed this decision as allowing more inclusion in the Games.
In any case, it is a question of balancing respect for human rights with ensuring fair play in sport.
It will be interesting to see how she gets on in her event!