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Weightlifter Laurel Hubbard Becomes 1st Transgender Athlete to Qualify for Olympics

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVJune 22, 2021

AP Photo/Hiro Komae

Laurel Hubbard made the New Zealand weightlifting team for the 2020 Olympics and in the process became the first out transgender woman to individually qualify for the Games, per Emily Adams of USA Today.

Adams noted the Olympics have featured an inclusion policy for trans athletes since 2003, but Hubbard became the first by lifting a net weight of 628 pounds across two lifts during the qualifying process.

Hubbard is both competing against world-class athletes and making sure she is in compliance with the rules the International Olympic Committee has placed on transgender women just to be a part of the Games.

As Adams explained, transgender women must declare their gender as female for at least four years, have their testosterone levels test at below 10 nanomoles for at least 12 months and then maintain such levels throughout their eligibility.

Hubbard is also the oldest weightlifting qualifier at 43 years old and coming back from a broken arm she suffered in 2018 at the Commonwealth Games.

"I am grateful and humbled by the kindness and support that has been given to me by so many New Zealanders," she said in a statement. "When I broke my arm at the Commonwealth Games three years ago, I was advised that my sporting career had likely reached its end. But your support, your encouragement, and your [love] carried me through the darkness."

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She may be joined by other transgender athletes in Tokyo, as Chelsea Wolfe is an alternate on the United States' BMX freestyle team, and Nikki Hiltz is competing to make the United States track and field roster.

"This landmark moment comes amid a slew of legislative attacks on transgender participation in youth and collegiate sports across the United States," Adams wrote. "Thirty-six states have introduced or passed bills that limit the ability of trans athletes to participate on teams that affirm their gender identity despite the damaging social and psychological impacts that LGBTQ+ advocates say exclusion can cause for transgender youth."

The Opening Ceremony of the 2020 Games is scheduled for July 23.

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