MELBOURNE, Australia, March 22, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – A male-to-female “trans” weightlifter sparked controversy with his win in the women’s over-90 kg division at an Australian International competition last weekend.
Gavin Hubbard, who uses the name Laurel, dominated the field, beating the runner-up, a biological woman, by nearly 20 kg. Some competitors complained that he had an unfair advantage.
The inclusion of Hubbard in the female competition prompted a call for a separate category for male-to-female “tran athletes.” Deborah Acason of the Australian Weightlifting Federation told local news media, “It's difficult when you don't believe you're in that situation and being in an even playing field.”
“We've got two categories here, it's been great that women can do the sport of weightlifting. But I think we need to look at a decision where we can give people in this situation … a category where everyone can compete on an even playing field,” Acason said.
The 39-year-old Hubbard competed at the national level as a male in New Zealand before changing his gender to female in his mid-30s. He then became the first “transgender” athlete to land a spot on the national team and win an event. Hubbard lifted a combined weight of 268 kg, or 19 kg more than Iuniarra Sipaia of Samoa. He also set four “unofficial” national records that were held by biological females and moved closer to qualifying for the 2017 Commonwealth Games.
“We all deserve to be on an even playing field,” a weightlifter told New Zealand’s 1News Now. “It’s difficult when you believe that you’re not. If it’s not even, why are we doing the sport?”
Olympic Weightlifting New Zealand justified its selection of Hubbard, the son of a former Auckland mayor, on the grounds that it conformed to International Olympic Committee standards. The rules call for a male competing as a female to have testosterone levels significantly below those of males for at least a year before competing against females. Previously, genital surgery was also required.
The committee that made this decision included doctors. However, it based its criteria on “growing recognition of the importance of autonomy of gender identity in society, as reflected in the laws of many jurisdictions worldwide.”
It also said its new standards would eliminate any advantage that having male hormones in one’s system for 20 to 30 years imparted.
Not everyone agrees.
“If a female weightlifting champ was found to have been using testosterone injections … she would have her titles stripped,” Dr. Michelle Cretella of the American College of Pediatricians told LifeSiteNews via e-mail. “This is what should happen in the case of the biological man who has used estrogen to feminize his appearance since his 30s who just ‘won’ a women's weightlifting competition.”
Dr. Cretella said even years of taking estrogen “will not alter his bone structure nor will it guarantee that his muscle strength potential will decrease to that of biological women of a similar body mass index.”
So-called “transwomen” are really “biological men wearing chemical and surgical drag,” Cretella said. “All men, by definition, are excluded from women's sports.”
An American hormone specialist, Dr. Ramona Krutzik, also believes advantages from 20 years of male development will not disappear after a few years of hormone treatment.
“Typically, you're looking at about 15 years after androgen suppression and SRS [sex reassignment surgery] to really start to see significant changes in bone density,” she told the boxing blog bloodyelbow.com.
What’s more, growing up male would mean “increased musculature and an increased ability to build muscle … which includes differences in endurance and strength,” Krutzik said.