After it was revealed that a transgender weightlifter would compete at this year's Olympics, a rival competitor has called it a "bad joke." If she takes part in the weightlifting event, Laurel Hubbard will become the first transgender athlete to participate in the Olympics.
However, her inclusion in the competition has not been without controversies. In particular, many of her rivals claim that the New Zealander brings with her an 'unfair' advantage.
The games are just three months away, and they will take place in Tokyo, Japan.
Anna Vanbellinghen, who competes in a similar category, suggested that Hubbard was included in the event at the expense of others.
The Belgian weightlifter had plenty to say about having a transgender person included in the competition:
"First off, I would like to stress that I fully support the transgender community and that what I'm about to say doesn't come from a place of rejection of this athlete's identity… However, anyone that has trained weightlifting at a high level knows this to be true in their bones: this particular situation is unfair to the sport and to the athletes."
She argued that she understood that sports authorities have to work with more than just common sense and that such scenarios come with lots of impracticalities.
However, she still concluded that "for athletes, the whole thing feels like a bad joke."
Hubbard Previously Competed As A Man
Before Hubbard transitioned in 2013, she was competing as a man. However, she was eligible to compete as a woman in the Olympics from 2015 after the International Olympic Committee allowed transgender athletes to participate in women's sports.
The only condition was that their testosterone levels would be monitored monthly in the year preceding their first competition.
However, this guideline has not satisfied all parties, who strongly believe it does not account for other 'biological advantages.'
Apparently, those who went through male puberty before transitioning enjoy other physical benefits even though they transitioned into women.
Those in support of transgender competitors claim that elite cisgender athletes often enjoy biological perks such as fast-twitch muscles and height advantages.
On their part, some transgender athletes argue that hormone replacement therapy decreases their natural athletic abilities and makes them lose muscles and stamina.
There is also a group of people critical of testosterone monitoring, which they think 'forces' the athletes to prove their gender.
Caster Semenya, an intersex gold medalist who identifies as a female, was prevented from participating in the Olympics from the year 2019 after rejecting demands to take medication that would suppress her hormone levels. The athlete said that it would be like taking the soul out of her body.
Although Vanbellinghen says she supports transgender athletes, she thinks that the fact that they are now taking part in women's sports will cost other athletes medal opportunities:
"Life-changing opportunities are missed for some athletes – medals and Olympic qualifications – and we are powerless."
Do you think she has a point, or is she being too harsh on transgender athletes?