New Zealand's first transgender weightlifter to compete internationally

New Zealand's first transgender weightlifter will enter the international arena this weekend, but her team mates and opposition have expressed mixed views on her involvement. 

Laurel Hubbard, 39, formally Gavin Hubbard, is competing at this year's Australian International.

Hubbard has claimed Commonwealth Games bronze medalist Tracey Lambrech's spot in the over 90kg group, forcing Lambrech to drop down a weight division. 

"I'm still not 100 per cent happy about it, but you know I'm glad Laurel is happy doing what she's doing. I fully support her choice in doing what she's doing in a sporting arena... I'm still not convinced it's the right thing."

"There have been a few whispers around and stuff but the weightlifting community is quite small and quite strong, so I'm sure she'll have nothing but support," Lambrech said. 

In 2015, the International Olympic Committee updated its policy on transgender athletes to allow them to compete in international sporting competitions without having surgery.

It states women have to have keep testosterone levels below a certain threshold for 12 months before competition.

However debate is raging over whether Hubbard, who transitioned in her mid-thirties, retains a physical advantage. 

Sports scientist and exercise physiologist Dr Simon Sostaric said if an athlete is transitioning in their 20s or early 30s, "They've already had the benefits of higher levels of testosterone than a female and you're not going to lose that muscle mass in a hurry."

Those outside the New Zealand team are taking a pragmatic approach.

New South Wales weightlifter Leah Poulton said it was just another regulation. 

"It's not my business whether it's fair or not. I'm not a scientist, I'm not an expert in that field, so if they say it's fair then I'll compete against her."

"It's the same as me going and being tested for a drug and not testing positive and therefore being able to compete," Poulton said. 

It is an issue being wrestled with around the world.

Back in Melbourne, Hubbard is preparing to compete on Sunday. She is expected to do well and is a probable for the New Zealand team in next year's Commonwealth Games. 


Laurel Hubbard will compete in the women's over 90kg group, despite raging debate about her participation. Source: 1 NEWS