Weightlifter Laurel Hubbard Makes Olympic History as First Transgender Woman to Compete in Games

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Making herstory. 

On Monday, Aug. 2, New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard made history as the first openly transgender woman to compete at the Olympics. Though the 43-year-old finished the +87 kg competition early after not being able to register a snatch, her presence at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics comes 18 years after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) created a policy to allow transgender competitors.

Hubbard—also the oldest lifter at the Tokyo Games—previously competed in men’s weightlifting competitions before she transitioned in 2013. And while she didn’t nab a medal, Hubbard is certainly feeling grateful for her home country and the IOC. 

“They have supported me through what have been quite difficult times,” Hubbard explained after the competition, per USA Today. “I know that my participation at these Games has not been entirely without controversy, but they have been just so wonderful.”

According to Hubbard, her presence “reaffirmed [the IOC’s] commitment to the principles of the Olympism” since instating the transgender competitor policy. ”They have demonstrated, I think, that sport is something that all people around the world can do,” she continued. “It’s inclusive. It’s accessible.”

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