The head of the Australian Weightlifting Federation has been slammed for attempting to block Laurel Hubbard from competing in this year’s Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
Hubbard last year qualified for the games, meeting International Olympic Committee criteria to compete in a female division.
However, Australian Weightlifting Federation CEO Mike Keelan has called for Hubbard to be banned from the games because of her trans status, Stuff has reported.
“Ultimately, it is our strong view that weightlifting has always been a gender-specific sport, male and female, not a competition among individuals of various levels of testosterone,” Keelan wrote in a letter to officials.
“In our respectful view, the current criteria and its application has the potential to devalue women’s weightlifting and discourage female-born athletes from pursuing the sport at the elite level in the future.
“The International Weightlifting Federation should clarify why the current criteria are considered appropriate, adequate and fair, otherwise an alternative to the status quo should urgently be considered.”
Keelan has previously claimed that allowing Hubbard to compete with cis women is unfair, invoking concerns about “hormones” and “masculinity”.
Trans women typically have lower testosterone levels than cis women due to hormone therapy.
Last year Hubbard took out two silver medals in the World Weightlifting Championships—with the gold going to cis competitor Sarah Robles.
Gary Marshall, president of Olympic Weightlifting New Zealand, accused Keelan of not having facts to back up his complaint, saying he has “no leg to stand on”.
“Laurel has met all the requirements they’ve asked, which includes a monthly testosterone test, and her testosterone levels are lower than a [cis] female,” said Marshall.
“[Keelan is] playing games and trying to niggle us in order to give the Australian weightlifter in that category a bit of an edge.”
Hubbard last year said she had waited to be able to be accepted in sports as a trans woman.
“It’s not my role or my goal to change people’s minds,” she said.
“I’m not here to change the world, I’m just here to be myself.”
A Human Rights Commission spokesperson confirmed that trans women with typical female levels of testosterone, such as Hubbard, hold no unfair physical advantage.
“Laurel is a woman—not a man masquerading as a woman to gain medals or glory,” they said.
“She is an incredible athlete, who has met the International Olympic Committee regulations related to acceptable testosterone levels that enable her to compete in sporting competitions.
“Participation in sport and physical activity is a human right.”