New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard became the first-ever openly transgender woman to compete in the 125-year history of the modern Olympics when she took part in the women’s super-heavyweight +87kg category on Monday in Japan.
Hubbard failed in all three of her attempts in the snatch, ending her bid for a medal. She was up against nine other athletes in the competition, with China’s world record holder, Li Wenwen, the favorite to win gold.
Hubbard competed in men’s weightlifting competitions before coming out in 2013.
Some background: She has been eligible to compete in the Olympics since 2015, when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) issued new guidelines allowing any transgender athlete to compete as a woman provided their testosterone levels are below 10 nanomoles per liter for at least 12 months before their first competition.
Her inclusion at the Games has been divisive.
Hubbard’s supporters have welcomed the decision as a way to help inspire other transgender athletes, while critics have questioned the fairness of transgender athletes competing against women.
In 2018, Australia’s weightlifting federation sought to block her from competing at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, but organizers rejected the move.
Meanwhile: Hubbard is the first transgender woman to compete in the Games, but she is the second transgender athlete. Hubbard’s entry in the history books comes alongside Canadian footballer Quinn, who is the first trans and non-binary athlete to compete in the Olympics. Quinn is also the first trans athlete who is guaranteed a medal at Tokyo 2020 after Canada’s semifinal win over the US on Monday.
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