Olympian Laurel Hubbard says she’s not a transgender icon but an athlete and plans to retire

TOKYO –

The first openly transgender Olympian said on Tuesday she would retire from weightlifting and felt her historic appearance at the Tokyo Games should be quickly forgotten as the sport makes greater strides to be more inclusive.

New Zealander Laurel Hubbard, 43, said she never looked for publicity, didn’t see herself as a role model or trailblazer, but just wanted to be treated like anybody else. another athlete on the biggest stage in sport.

“I don’t think it should be historic. I think as we move into a new and more understanding world, people are starting to realize that people like me are just people,” Hubbard said. about his participation in Tokyo, which was among the most controversial issues leading up to the Olympics.

“We are human and as such I hope that being here will suffice,” she said in a rare interview with international media.

“All I ever wanted as an athlete was to be seen as an athlete.”

The soft, shy voice of the media Hubbard made an unexpected premature exit on Monday, eliminated 10 minutes into the start of his +87kg contest after failures in his first three lifts.

Hubbard, who was born male and transitioned eight years ago, competed in Tokyo under the rules of a 2015 International Olympic Committee (IOC) consensus on trans athletes. The IOC is currently reviewing these guidelines.

Her participation fueled a broad debate on whether being more inclusive of trans women athletes means disadvantaging those born as women.

Critics of the IOC argue trans athletes have an advantage in skeletal and muscle development from being born male and say rules allowing trans athletes to compete in female events could be abused by countries seeking to win more Olympic medals.

‘LITTLE STEP’

Advocates of trans athletes dismiss this as extremely unlikely, saying hormone therapy during the transition negates perceived performance benefits.

Hubbard, who was twice the age of her competitors, said she was considering retiring because age had caught up with her and weightlifting had taken its physical toll.

“What I hope, if I am able to look back, is that it will only be a small part of the story, just a small step,” said Hubbard.

“I really hope that over time any significance for this occasion will be diminished by things to come.”

She said she was not an icon for trans athletes.

“I hope that just being here I can give you a feeling of encouragement,” she said.

“I just hope that different people who are going through difficulties or struggles… that they can maybe see that there are opportunities in the world. There are opportunities to live authentically, and as we are.”

Save Women’s Sport Australasia, which called for more scientific studies and regulations on transgender athletes, said the IOC had been reckless in determining that biological men who identified as women could compete in women’s sports.

“It seems completely unacceptable that New Zealander Laurel Hubbard has borne the brunt of what is clearly wrong policy,” he said in a statement.

Hubbard applauded the IOC for its courage, but agreed that more conversation and study was needed.

She believes that the negative attention given to her was based on emotion rather than principle and that people reacted out of fear.

“I tried not to dwell on a blanket or negative perception because it makes the job even more difficult,” she said.

“It’s hard enough to lift a bar. But if you put more weight on it, it makes it a really impossible task.”

Charles T. McConnell