Transphobia: Games’ ticking time bomb explodes
THE Commonweath Games' transgender ticking time bomb has exploded the day before New Zealand gold medal favourite Laurel Hubbard is scheduled to compete.
New Zealand's first transgender athlete at the Commonwealth Games is expected to take gold in the women's 90kg-plus weightlifting category on Monday at Carrara Sports Arena 1 where she will take on Aussie Deb Lovely-Acason.
Games officials have repeatedly declared their support for Hubbard's inclusion in the event, despite the 40-year-old having previously competed internationally on the men's weightlifting circuit.
Hubbard reportedly made her transition to become a woman at the age of 35 and she has satisfied every criteria under Commonwealth Games rules to qualify for the women's lifting event.
However, she has been the target of widespread protests and uproar from rival weightlifting federations which have publicly called on officials to ban her from competing.
Australian Weightlifting Federation chief executive Michael Keelan last month called on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Commonwealth Games Federation to rewrite the rule book that has allowed Hubbard to compete on the Gold Coast.
Australia and several rival federations have claimed Hubbard has an unfair advantage, having transitioned to a woman just five years ago.
She became eligible to compete as a woman after showing testosterone levels below the threshold required by the International Olympic Committee.
Hubbard won two silvers at the world championships in Anaheim in December, becoming New Zealand's first medallist at the competition.
Her expected success and potential to inspire has led to a push in New Zealand for Hubbard to be given the honour of carrying the Kiwi flag and lead the team into the stadium during the Games' closing ceremony.
The New Zealand Herald's Kris Shannon wrote on Sunday selecting Hubbard for the role of flag bearer would be the perfect inspirational bookend to New Zealand's campaign after Paralympic swimming star Sophie Pascoe was given the honour for the opening ceremony at Carrara Stadium.
"No other athlete shines as bright a beacon for inspiration and equality as Hubbard," Shannon wrote.
"And no other athlete at these Games is as important, given the gradual fight for LGBT rights in and outside of sport."
Rival federations, however, are up in arms with pacific nation representatives on Sunday launching a final public call for Hubbard to be banned.
"A man is a man and a woman is a woman and I know a lot of changes have gone through, but in the past Laurel Hubbard used to be a male champion weightlifter," Samoan weightlifting head coach Jerry Wallwork told the ABC.
"The strength is still there and I think it's very unfair, and for all females it's unfair.
"The situation may have been accepted by the IOC, but that won't stop us from protesting, regardless of whether it's against one of our lifters or not. It's just very unfair."
Wallwork has said previously the strength Hubbard developed as a man has remained with her after five years as a woman.
While the controversy has swirled around her, Hubbard has stayed silent, refusing all media interviews until after she competes.
She said last year she has found it difficult to deal with the ugly public comments that have surrounded her selection, but just wants to show she is no different to anybody else.
"Every athlete has to develop a certain amount of toughness because when you are competing at this level, you can't let the distractions distract you," she said in December.
"I don't think I am any different from anyone else, I don't think I am any tougher - I just do what I have to do. You would have to be a robot to not be affected by what people were saying, but I can't control what other people think."