Rival Weightlifter Says Transgender Athlete Competing in the Olympics is 'Like a Bad Joke' | 22 Words

After it was announced last month that Laurel Hubbard was set to become the first transgender athlete to compete in an Olympic event, backlash quickly ensued...

Most recently, from rival weightlifter, Anna Vanbellinghen.

Who described the decision as feeling "like a bad joke"...

Now, this has been a heavily debated topic for quite some time.

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Ever since the Olympics allowed trans athletes to compete in 2016, there has been a solid divide in opinion over the matter.

While many are supportive of the inclusion of transgender athletes...

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Others argue that it is unfair towards other athletes competing in the sport.

The subject of transgender female athletes is certainly the most debated...

With people like Piers Morgan stepping in (even though no one asked).

He argued that female trans athletes have an "unfair advantage."

Claiming this is due to the fact they were born with male anatomy, consisting of testosterone and other male hormones that increase strength and stamina.

It has been argued that their competitors don't "stand a chance"...

Meaning that many people feel that transgender athletes shouldn't be allowed to compete at all.

For instance, professional MMA fighter Ronda Rousey has voiced her opinion.

She refused to fight trans fighter Fallon Fox in 2014.

"I feel like if you go through puberty as a man it's something that you can't really reverse."

"You can't just reverse that, there's no undo button on that. That's, unfortunately, her scenario," she said of her decision.

And New Zealand transgender weightlifter, Laurel Hubbard, faced a lot of criticism after she won a gold medal at the Pacific Games.

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New Zealand-based lobby group, "Speak Up For Women," advocates that sport must be categorized by sex rather than gender identity.

They called on the country's Olympic committee and sports minister to "defend women's sport."

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"Kiwis (New Zealanders) know that males competing in women's sport is blatantly unfair," the group's spokesperson Ani O'Brien harshly said.

Nevertheless, transgender athletes are allowed to compete here in the United States...

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And transgender girls are permitted to participate in sports that match their gender identity at schools and colleges across the country.

However, that has slowly been changing in certain states.

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In February, the State of Mississippi voted unanimously to ban young transgender athletes from competing in female sports in all schools and universities.

Months later, many other states including Florida have followed suit.

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But as the debates rage on, there has been some progressive news...

As Laurel Hubbard is set to make history once more.

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Competing in the Tokyo Olympics.

​She'll be the first trans athlete in history to compete at this level. 

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And will be competing in the weight lifting event.

​The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has updated its rules in the run-up to these games.

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Meaning Hubbard can now compete in the women's super heavyweight (87kg-plus) category for weightlifting.

Hubbard previously competed in male weight lifting competitions.

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Before she transitioned back in 2013.

There are still certain guidelines for trans athletes in the Olympics.

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Including that athlete's levels of testosterone were 10 nanomoles per litre for at least twelve months prior to competition.

It's a landmark moment for trans athletes.

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But for Hubbard, her focus is purely personal.

She's currently ranked 14th out of the competitors.

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Which means she is in with a shot of taking home a medal.

However, not everyone is happy about the decision...

And one person who seems to be particularly unhappy with the decision is Belgian weightlifter, Anna Vanbellinghen.

Vanbellinghen said although she "fully supports the transgender community" the inclusion of transgender athletes should not come "at the expense of others."

Vanbellinghen, who competes in the same division as Hubbard, spoke with Olympics news website, insidethegames, explaining:

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"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."

"I am aware that defining a legal frame for transgender participation in sports is very difficult since there is an infinite variety of situations, and that reaching an entirely satisfactory solution, from either side of the debate, is probably impossible."

"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."

"I understand that for sports authorities nothing is as simple as following your common sense, and that there are a lot of impracticalities when studying such a rare phenomenon, but for athletes the whole thing feels like a bad joke," Vanbellinghen, who almost missed qualifying due to injury, later added.

"Life-changing opportunities are missed for some athletes - medals and Olympic qualifications - and we are powerless. Of course, this debate is taking place in a broader context of discrimination against transgender people, and that is why the question is never free of ideology."

"However, the extreme nature of this particular situation really demonstrates the need to set up a stricter legal framework for transgender inclusion in sports, and especially elite sports."

"Because I do believe that everyone should have access to sports, but not at the expense of others."

Good luck to Hubbard and all who are competing!

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