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WELLINGTON, New Zealand, June 22, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — New Zealand weightlifter Gavin “Laurel” Hubbard, a man who claims to be a woman, will be the first “transgender” weightlifter to compete in the Olympics in the women’s super heavyweight category.
The Auckland-born athlete, who stands over six feet tall and weighs 286 pounds, has claimed to be a woman since he was 35. He has now been selected to compete in next month’s Tokyo Olympics after meeting the qualifications for transgender athletes, which include showing testosterone levels below a threshold set by the International Olympic Committee.
At 43, Hubbard will also be the oldest weightlifter participating in the competition.
“We acknowledge that gender identity in sport is a highly sensitive and complex issue requiring a balance between human rights and fairness on the field of play,” said New Zealand Olympic Committee Chief Kereyn Smith.
“As the New Zealand team, we have a strong culture of manaaki (caring) and inclusion and respect for all,” she said.
Hubbard, who is the son of former Auckland mayor Dick Hubbard, became eligible to compete in the Olympics after the International Olympic Committee changed its rules in 2015, permitting people who say they are transgender to compete against athletes of the opposite sex.
Hubbard has long asserted he has no advantage over female competitors.
“Look, I’ve heard that and I think it’s incredibly disrespectful to the other competitors,” he said in 2017.
“I don’t believe there is any fundamental difference between me and the other athletes, and to suggest this is slightly demeaning to them,” he added.
But not all athletes agree with that assessment. Former Olympic weightlifter Tracey Lambrechs told Reuters in May that she was “quite disappointed for the female athlete who will lose out on that spot.”
“We’re all about equality for women in sport, but right now that equality is being taken away from us,” she remarked.
Lambrechs said she has been approached by other female athletes who ask her what they should do, arguing that allowing men to compete against women is unfair.
“Unfortunately, there’s nothing we can do because every time we voice it we get told to be quiet,” she said.
Lambrechs, who competed in the super heavyweight category of women’s Olympic and Commonwealth events until 2017, said she was pushed out of the category by Hubbard.
“When I was told to drop the category because Laurel was obviously going to be their number one super, it was heartbreaking, like super soul destroying,” she told TVNZ.
“And it’s unfortunate that some female, somewhere is like, ‘Well, I’m going to miss out on going to the Olympics, on achieving my dream, representing my country because a transgendered athlete is able to compete,” she said.
Since “transitioning,” Hubbard has continuously defeated female competitors. Just this year, he broke a record by winning twice at the IWF World Weightlifting Championships. In the 2017 Australian International in Melbourne, Hubbard crushed his competition, setting four unofficial national weightlifting records for New Zealand.
The news of Hubbard’s selection to join New Zealand’s Olympic weightlifting team comes as multiple U.S. states have begun passing legislation banning men from competing in women’s sports.
In March, Gov. Tate Reeves of Mississippi signed Senate Bill 2536 into law, making Mississippi the first state in the country to ban men from women’s sports. Just weeks later, Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas signed SB354, the “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act.” In June, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an act by the same name that blocks men from competing in women’s sports in Florida. In South Dakota, Gov. Kristi Noem disappointed conservatives by failing to sign a similar bill brought by the South Dakota legislature.
Though Hubbard has made headlines by being selected for the women’s Olympic weightlifting team, he lost a battle just two years ago to keep his name out of the news for his criminal liability in a traffic accident that led to significant injuries.
In January 2019, Hubbard pleaded guilty to a 2018 charge of careless driving after his vehicle struck a car driven by a man in his 60s, who was hospitalized for nearly two weeks and required major spinal surgery. Hubbard’s lawyer “successfully applied for suppression orders” to keep the court dealings private so that Hubbard could train for Olympic events “without the distress caused by social media comments responding to publicity about the charge,” according to Stuff Ltd.
But in July 2019, Justice Gerald Nation overturned the suppression orders, saying Hubbard did not show “a real risk of extreme hardship.”
“The media representing the public interest … should have been able to report on what happened in Court,” Justice Nation said.
The Tokyo Olympics begin July 23.