Sports

Tokyo Olympic transgender could polarize opinion, expert says

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Photo of Laurel Hubbard’s file.

A U.S. expert on transgender rights and politics says New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard’s participation in the Tokyo Olympics could inspire other trans athletes, but could also become a focus for conservative activists who oppose more. the great rights and freedoms of LGBTQ

Dr Jamie Taylor, a professor of political science at the University of Toledo, said Hubbard could find himself in a position without a victory, even if he succeeded when competing in the 87kg plus women’s division.

Hubbard’s choice to make the 43-year-old New Zealander the first trans athlete to compete in the Olympics has already drawn criticism from some conservative commentators.

“I suspect we will see opponents of transgender rights shaping the Hubbard situation in ways that contribute to their own goals,” Taylor said in an email to the Associated Press. “I think they will have some success and I would not be shocked if the IOC and other sports organizations eventually tightened their policies if those policies were relatively permissive.

“In the United States, this is happening and will continue to happen at the state level as long as we have some policy at the national level.”

Hubbard’s involvement in Tokyo is an important cornerstone for transgender athletes and a possible inspiration for others, Taylor said, but could also provoke condemnation.

“I think the reaction is likely to build on that,” she said. “We see it in different states in the United States

“The International Olympic Committee also noted that its policies regarding the trans people involved are open to further review with more medical and scientific evidence.”

Taylor said Hubbard was “now part of this body of evidence.”

“In some ways, Hubbard is in a winless situation,” Taylor said. “If she medals, her performance will certainly be used by opponents to argue that trans women should be subject to greater restrictions, if not a total ban.”

Hubbard rarely gives media interviews and tends to avoid the spotlight. Inevitably, however, he follows her to every race.

“In some ways, these are the best Olympics for her,” Taylor said. “The reduced capacity of the crowd and the restrictions on shouting due to COVID-19 will limit the ability of fans to influence its performance through whistles and shouts.”

“They’re not just going to be fans, though,” Taylor added.

Some critics of the inclusion argue that transgender women have inherent advantages of physiology and strength in some sports. Some female athletes cite this, calling for Hubbard’s expulsion, and conservatives are pushing for it.

Taylor, who teaches in areas including public policy and American politics and is the co-author of The Remarkable Rise of Transgender Rights, acknowledged that the inclusion of transgender women in sports involves complex issues.

“The transition between the sexes changes some, but not all, of the biological factors that can contribute to the differences in performance that exist on average between men and women,” Taylor said. many women and most trans women have not encountered this.

“Nevertheless, the average values ​​in society are not competing, but the people. And their circumstances are different. People also have rights.”

Hubbard, who won a silver medal at the 2017 World Cup and gold at the 2019 Pacific Games in Samoa, will finish fourth in the Olympics on August 2.

She competed in the British Community Games in 2018 on the Gold Coast of Australia, but suffered a serious injury that hindered her career.

“I am grateful and humbled by the kindness and support that so many New Zealanders have given me,” Hubbard said in a statement when her election was announced earlier this week. “When I broke my arm at the British Community Games three years ago, I was informed that my sporting career was probably over. But your support, your encouragement, and your scent (love) carried me through the darkness. “

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