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

New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard became the first openly transgender female athlete at the Olympics. But she isn’t the only transgender competitor at the 2020 Tokyo Games.

By Samantha Bergeson Aug 02, 2021 2:42 PMTags
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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."

2020 Tokyo Olympics Candid Photos

As for her performance, Hubbard admitted that "from a sporting perspective, I didn't really hit the standards that I've put on myself and perhaps the standards that my country has expected of me [but] one of the things for which I am so profoundly grateful is that I have supporters in New Zealand that have given me so much love and encouragement," she concluded. "Behind every weightlifter, there is a team of people who have offered support, encouragement."

Stanislav Krasilnikov\TASS via Getty Images

Hubbard may be the first, but she certainly will not be the last transgender athlete to compete in the Games. In fact, later in the day Aug. 2, Canada's Quinn, who also identifies as transgender, led their soccer team to victory against the U.S.

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