Laurel Hubbard Will Make History as the First Transgender Athlete Competing in the Olympics

Before transitioning in 2013, the 43-year-old competed in men’s weightlifting.

When this year’s summer Olympics begin in Tokyo, Laurel Hubbard will make history. The 43-year-old will become the first transgender athlete to compete in the games. This was possible after the International Weightlifting Federation and New Zealand Olympic Committee modified qualifying requirements for the Tokyo games.

The New Zealand Olympic Committee said in a statement, "The NZOC can confirm that revised International Federation (IF) qualification systems are very likely to see a number of New Zealand weightlifters, including Commonwealth Games transgender athlete Laurel Hubbard.”

Before transitioning in 2013, the 43-year-old competed in men’s weightlifting competitions. Laurel has been eligible to compete in the Olympics since 2015 when the international Olympics committee issued guidelines allowing any trans-athlete to compete as a woman if their testosterone levels are below a certain rate.

Some have criticized these guidelines arguing they do little to mitigate the biological advantages of those who have gone through puberty as males, including bone and muscle density.

However, advocates for transgender inclusion argue that the transition process decreases that advantage and physical differences between athletes mean there is never truly a level playing field in sports.

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