Despite not winning a medal, New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard has made Olympic history by becoming the first-ever out trans athlete to compete in the international sporting event. The 43-year-old exited the games after failing to lift 125kg in the 87kg category but has nevertheless been hailed a “hero” for competing in the face of transphobia.
What The Trans, a UK-based news source, shared a message of praise for Hubbard on social media: “Laurel Hubbard, for months, has been the most hated trans woman on the planet and that is saying something. And all she did was really want to lift and be damned good at it. She did it anyway. Hubbard is a hero. She showed up and said “no” to those who booed. Powerful.”
Another Twitter user wrote that Hubbard deserved a medal “based on the weight of all the bigotry she’s had to carry alongside her for so long now.” Before the Olympic games, over 28,000 signed a petition to protest trans inclusion in the event, with fellow weightlifter Anna Van Bellinghen saying that Hubbard’s participation is “unfair” to cisgender women.
Despite the hostility towards Hubbard, a 2021 study found there is no evidence to support banning trans women from sports, saying any advantages should be related to an athlete’s individual ability.