New Zealand trans weightlifter Laurel Hubbard has returned to international competition, competing in Darwin’s Arafura Games but failing to make a lift.
Hubbard was previously in Australia for last year’s Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, where she ruptured an elbow ligament in an injury that threatened to end her career.
She attempted the lift three times before bowing out with a cheerful wave to the crowd.
Like most trans athletes, Hubbard has been accused of having an unfair advantage over cis women competitors.
After qualifying for last year’s Commonwealth Games, including meeting the International Olympic Committee medical criteria to compete in the women’s division, she was subject to attacks by those who wanted her banned.
Australian Weightlifting Federation CEO Mike Keelan’s repeated calls for Hubbard to be blocked from competing were dismissed by Commonwealth Games officials.
Gary Marshall, president of Olympic Weightlifting New Zealand, accused Keelan of not having facts to back up his complaint, saying he had “no leg to stand on”.
A Human Rights Commission spokesperson at the time said 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.”
Hubbard took out two silver medals in the 2017 World Weightlifting Championships—with the gold going to cis competitor Sarah Robles.
She 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,” said Hubbard.
“I’m not here to change the world, I’m just here to be myself.”