The International Olympic Committee gave its full support to transgender athletes on Friday, claiming “transwomen are women.”
The declaration came as New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard, a man who identifies as female, prepared to compete against women as the first openly transgender Olympian to participate in an individual event.
“After 100 years of promoting women’s sport, it’s up to each of the international federations to ensure that they try and protect women’s sport,” Olympic Medical Director Richard Budgett said during a briefing in Tokyo, according to Reuters.
“Science will help, experience will help, and time will help.”
Budgett affirmed the IOC’s view that “transwomen are women” and should be included in women’s sport “when we possibly can,” according to the report.
“To put it in a nutshell, the IOC had a scientific consensus back in 2015,” he said, according to The Guardian.
“There are no IOC rules or regulations around transgender participation. That depends on each international federation,” Budgett said.
“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.”
“The Olympic Games are a global celebration of our hopes, our ideals and our values. I commend the IOC for its commitment to making sport inclusive and accessible,” he said.
Hubbard’s selection had been expected under the complex International Weightlifting Federation rules that limit weightlifting selections among countries.
He is eligible for the Summer Games despite having competed against other men up until 2013 under Olympic rules enacted in 2015 that allow men to compete as women if their testosterone levels are sufficiently low.
Save Women’s Sport Australasia opposed Hubbard’s selection.
“It is flawed policy from the IOC that has allowed the selection of a 43-year-old biological male who identifies as a woman to compete in the female category,” the group said in a statement, according to the BBC.
Female weightlifter Judy Glenney doesn’t support “the inclusion of trans women in female sport,” according to the U.K.’s GB News. “We need to keep women competing against women,” she said.
‘We need to keep women competing against women.’
Pioneer of female weightlifting Judy Glenney doesn’t support the inclusion of trans women in female sport. This follows the news that trans weightlifter Laurel Hubbard will compete in Tokyo. pic.twitter.com/03E8L8toqX
— GB News (@GBNEWS) July 24, 2021
New Zealand officials defended Hubbard’s selection.
“Certainly we have seen a groundswell of comment about it and a lot of it is inappropriate,” New Zealand Olympic Committee spokeswoman Ashley Abbott said Friday, according to France 24.
“Our view is that we’ve got a culture of manaaki (inclusion) and it’s our role to support all eligible athletes on our team,” she said.
“In terms of social media, we won’t be engaging in any kind of negative debate.”
CORRECTION, Aug. 6, 2021: This article previously identified Laurel Hubbard, a male weightlifter who identifies as female, as the first openly transgender athlete to compete in the Olympics. In fact, the first openly transgender athlete to compete in the Olympics is the Canadian women’s soccer player Quinn, a woman who identifies as both transgender and nonbinary, according to The Associated Press. However, Hubbard does appear to be the first openly transgender athlete to compete in an individual Olympic event.
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