Laurel Hubbard is set to make her first Olympic appearance at the Tokyo Games. While the trans athlete is getting support from the IOC, they know that policy changes are needed moving forward.
The subject of Hubbard participating in the Tokyo Games has been a topic of much debate since the announcement was made. While she has followed each guideline that the IOC has in place, many feel that someone who was born a man and did not transition to a woman until well into adult life should not be allowed to compete with women.
Despite concerns from athletes and critics alike, Hubbard will be competing at the Tokyo Games, and will be doing so with the full support of the International Olympic Committee. Dr. Richard Budgett, the IOC’s medical and science director, spoke in a recent interview to praise Laurel for her bravery to make it as far as she has, and show support for the trans weightlifter.
“To put it in a nutshell, the IOC had a scientific consensus back in 2015,” Budgett said. “There are no IOC rules or regulations around transgender participation. That depends on each international federation. So Laurel Hubbard is a woman, and is competing under the rules of her federation, and we have to pay tribute to her courage and tenacity in actually competing and qualifying for the Games.”
Budgett went on to say that there Is no evidence to support the claim that because Hubbard went through puberty as a male, she conferred some sort of benefit from this that translates to her weightlifting abilities. That being said, he recognizes that this is a complicated situation, and feels that each sport needs to make decisions regarding trans athletes, and what is best for that sport.
“There is a lot of disagreement across the whole world of sport and beyond on this issue of eligibility,” he added. “Everyone agrees transgender women are women. But it’s a matter of eligibility for sport, and particular events, and it really has to be very sport specific.”
He continued by saying that the IOC has been working on new guidelines in regards to how trans athletes like Laurel Hubbard fit in for weightlifting on an Olympic level. He says that they did not want to introduce this new regulation so close to the Tokyo Games, but that the new guidelines will roll out soon.
“One of the reasons there is no new framework published yet is not just because of the difficulty in coming to any consensus. It’s because it would have been inappropriate to come out with new guidelines just before the Olympics. There will be a new framework to help individual sports, and we’re working very closely with them, but it’s not published yet.”
For now, Laurel Hubbard has met every guideline that the IOC has put in place, including keeping her testosterone levels below a certain threshold, and has qualified for the Tokyo Games. It will be interesting to see how she does in the coming days, and what these new regulations may look like moving forward.