The other day the ‘MtF’ transgender weightlifter “Laurel” Hubbard won two silver medals in the 90 kg plus category (198 plus pounds in freedom numbers) at the New Zealand weightlifting world championships. Now, I’ve left my thoughts on this travesty back in August, but I feel the need to discuss this more because this should not have happened. (Yes, there is anecdotal evidence of transgender MtFs who go on HRT who lose strength at a great rate, which does lend credence to the fact that testosterone does influence sports performance, however, “Laurel’s” levels were at the high end of women and, although he had lower levels he still had inherent biological advantages.)
“Laurel” (I will be referring to “Laurel” as he, as is standard for me) won two silver medals on Wednesday in Anaheim, California. He wasn’t “at his best” at this competition since his clean and snatch was 7 kg lower than his win back in August, though the numbers he put up on Wednesday were enough to give him two silver medals.
Back in April he “shattered records“, is this a surprise to anyone? When a biological male claims to be a woman, then competes with women in a weightlifting competition and blows away old, long-standing records? It most definitely isn’t. The coach for New Zealand even called his outing “magnificent”, what is “magnificent” about a biological male literally walking on stage and dominating women? Yes, he showed his testosterone levels were low enough to compete with women per the IOC’s rules:
The athlete must demonstrate that her total testosterone level in serum has been below 10 nmol/L for at least 12 months prior to her first competition (with the requirement for any longer period to be based on a confidential case-by-case evaluation, considering whether or not 12 months is a sufficient length of time to minimize any advantage in women’s competition).
The athlete’s total testosterone level in serum must remain below 10 nmol/L throughout the period of desired eligibility to compete in the female category.
Compliance with these conditions may be monitored by testing. In the event of non-compliance, the athlete’s eligibility for female competition will be suspended for 12 months.
However, as I noted, the IOC’s recommendations for MtFs is at the high end for a ‘real woman’. That would have an effect, though I have no way of knowing the other competitor’s testosterone levels (which i assume would be skewed towards the high end since they do rigorous training), other factors come into play here, testosterone is not the only biological advantage that males have over females. People spoke out and stated that “… in my humble opinion this is not fair“, and that guy is right; this is not fair.
You have women who bust their ass year in and year out who stick to a rigorous schedule to be the best they can be and just because some guy lowers his testosterone levels and satisfies the IOC’s recommendations, that’s supposed to make it ‘fair’? No, that’s bullshit.
Despite all of this, an American woman named Sarah Robles who won a bronze medal at the Olympics, beat “Laurel” Hubbard, and I commend her for winning the competition, even with the odds stacked against her, competing against a biological male. Robles had a 284 kg total (626 pounds in freedom numbers) to “Laurel’s” 275 kg (606 pounds in freedom numbers).
On top of this controversy, he asks his detractors to “keep an open mind“. An open mind? This has nothing at all to do with an open mind. To attempt damage control, he said:
”I would ask people to keep an open mind and perhaps look to the fact that I didn’t win as evidence that any advantage I may hold is not as great as they may think,
This is literally irrelevant. Oh his advantage is there alright, however without knowing anything about the courageous woman who beat him, I cannot assess this anymore. All I can say is that Sarah Robles is to be commended for overcoming such great odds and this proves her worth as an outstanding athlete.
This man is so literally delusional that he says “there is no difference between him and the women he beat“. Anyone with a basic understanding of anatomy and physiology knows that this is literally note true. Sure, being on HRT (hormone replacement therapy) decreases bone mineral density and strength, but he still went through a male puberty, his SRY gene was activated in the womb which masculinized him; you literally cannot say there is “no difference” between him and the women he beat. The world is going to hell, especially when a man can walk on to a stage and blow away the competition (he did back in April, not on Wesneday however).
“I don’t believe there is any fundamental difference between me and the other athletes, and to suggest there is is slightly demeaning to them,” he said, according to Newshub. “I think it’s incredibly disrespectful to the other competitors.”
It’s alright if you ‘don’t believe there is any fundamental difference between you and other athletes’, that’s your right to ‘believe it’. However, reality is different than the fantasy world you have constructed in your head. It is not disrespectful to the other competitors to imply that there is a fundamental difference between you and them. What is disrespectful is the fact that you were allowed to compete with them while calling yourself ‘a woman’.
The AWF chief executive Michael Keelan has some great commentary here:
AWF chief executive Michael Keelan said Hubbard’s inclusion in the women’s open class would create an “uneven playing field” on the Gold Coast. “We’re in a power sport which is normally related to masculine tendencies … where you’ve got that aggression, you’ve got the right hormones, then you can lift bigger weights,” he said.
“If you’ve been a male and you’ve lifted certain weights, then you suddenly transition to a female, psychologically you know you’ve lifted those weights before.” Hubbard had to demonstrate her testosterone levels were below a certain threshold for 12 months before representing New Zealand.
A Samoan weightlifter in the 90 kg class, Iuniarra Sipaia, stated:
“I felt that it was unfair … It only changed the physical side but her emotions, her strength and everything is still a male.”
Women lost weight to shift down a weight class or two just so they wouldn’t have to compete against “Laurel”, and I do not blame them. Tim Swords, the coach of the winner Sara Robles, also stated that this was not fair.
Personally, if I was training a woman for a weightlifting/powerlifting competition and I had prior knowledge that a man who believes he is a woman is going to compete I would pull my athlete out of the competition and state why I did so. It’s literally not fair that he is able to compete—his testosterone level be damned—with women who have lived their whole lives as women, went through a woman’s puberty and have the bodily proportions of women.
I mean look at his somatype! It looks like he would tower over all of the other competitors ‘he beat’. Somatype is extremely important when it comes to weightlifting and by looking at his somatype you can tell that all of these weak women (compared to “Laurel”) basically did not stand a chance. I wonder what was going through Sarah Robles’ mind while competing against a biological male? If I were her coach, words cannot describe how proud I would be of her that she beat a biological male in a competition when he had natural, inherent advantages since he went through a male puberty. This is something that I believe that bodies like the IOC and AWF fail to take into account: there are other advantages that males have over females other than testosterone. Believing anything else is delusional.
Just because someone satisfies the IOC’s testosterone cut-off does not mean that they do not have any other inherent biological advantages just from being male. I’m sure some would argue that all of these women and even all athletes have inherent biological advantages and that someone would argue that you’d need to segregate competitions based on certain differences in anthropometric measures (however these competitions select people with certain anthropometric measures as certain somatypes can lift more weight and have an easier time on certain exercises than others due to levers). However, these advantages that “Laurel” has are literally due to being born a male.
In sum, this is a travesty. Biological women who bust their ass every day of the week to be in top competition shape have to then compete against someone who has all of the underpinnings of a male, while only getting to compete because ‘he claims to be a woman’? That’s bullshit and I’m sure that organizations like the IOC know this, they just have to be politically correct due to backlash from people. Well, I’m not a politically correct person and I call it how I see it: “Laurel” Hubbard should barred from competing in these world championships. He is not a woman, he is a man. Maybe they should create transgender weightlifting world championships and let women and men compete with actual, biological women and men? No, that’d make too much sense though. This is a man, through and through, and no amount of hormones or surgery will do anything to change that. The fact that he is so cocky and says that he has no inherent advantage due to being biologically male is bullshit and I’m sure that in the back of his mind he knows it.
I think there are some genuinely intersex people who fall into a difficult category. They’re rare in real life, but probably pretty common at the top end of women’s sports, for obvious reasons. I don’t know enough about the biology of gender to know what exactly would make a reasonable test/cut-off for such people, but such considerations might also affect whether trans people qualify to compete.
Still, I wonder why anyone who claims to identify as “female” is participating in one of the most masculine of activities.