New Zealand – Male-to-female transgender Laurel Hubbard, formerly known as Gavin Hubbard, lost the gold medal in weightlifting for women in the Commonwealth Games on Monday, following making four new records and winning the Australian International weightlifting competition for women last year.
Hubbard was actually far ahead of her opponent, but failed trying to lift far more than was necessary. Feagaiga Stowers of Samoa, the nearest adversary, lifted 113kg, whereas Hubbard tried lifting 127 kg on the road to setting personal and Commonwealth record by lifting 132 kg. Failing to lift this, she suffered a ‘horror elbow injury’ so painful that she had to withdraw from the games.
Still on the team of New Zealand, Laurel is now participating on the women’s team after having been judged eligible to compete on the women’s team last year by showing that her testosterone levels were below those required by the International Olympic Committee.
The head coach of Samoa, the team of the nearest adversary to Hubbard, objected, asserting that ‘the strength is still there and I think it’s very unfair, and for all females it’s unfair.’ The Olympic Weightlifting New Zealand President Garry Marshall agrees, saying that ‘She competed as a long time for a man and her efforts were very strong. That strength has remained with her, despite testosterone. That point is not recognized by the science and some of our competitors would say that’s not fair.’
Other competitors, however, take it lighter, as bronze medalist Kaitlyn Fassina, who conceded about Hubbard after her winning the Australian International weightlifting competition last year that ‘She is who she is. That’s the way the politics…and what the New Zealanders have decided. I can’t say much more than that. She is seen as female and that’s the way it is.’ Some also congratulated Hubbard for her victory.
Hubbard participating and doing so well in these weightlifting competitions has revived a debate about transgender participation in such competitive sports were one gender naturally has a predisposed advantage over the other. Deborah Acason, a two-time weightlifting Olympian, complained that ‘If I was in that category I wouldn’t feel like I was in an equal situation. I just feel that if it’s not even why are we doing the sport?’ After the competition she won in Australia last year, the Australian Weightlifting Federation chief executive Michael Keelan called on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Commonwealth Games Federation to rewrite the rule book that has allowed Hubbard to compete on the Gold Coast.
The same concerns arised after a high school boy identifying as a girl won all-state honors in Alaska’s female track and field division last June. The mother of one of the girls wiped out in the state finals exclaimed about her child: ‘She was upset. How do you explain to her that not only does she need to train to beat her fellow female athletes now she should also train to beat the males?’ She added with a warning that ‘I believe parents and athletes alike should be worried. Transgender males being allowed to compete in female events are being afforded an unfair advantage. Males are physically different than females. That’s a scientific fact. Hormones and body modification cannot change that. Today it’s one transgender athlete. Tomorrow it could be half the field.’
It’s a trend you can only either love or hate. Kris Shannon of the Washington Herald admired Hubbard, saying ‘No other athlete shines as bright a beacon for inspiration and equality as Hubbard. And no other athlete at these Games is as important, given the gradual fight for LGBT rights in and outside of sport,’ adding that she ‘should be elevated to the flagbearing position as a point of undisputed pride within the New Zealand team’ if she won the gold medal.
This is a part of a bigger picture. In the continual advocacy of LGBT acceptance and rights on the Left, this is one of the matters it implicates which should make us stop for a moment and consider whether this is really the road which we want our society to follow. Human rights and tolerance advocated in the 20th century produced indeed great results, but is it much more to be done here in our time, or is this, and the rest of today’s movement, going too far?