Transgender women have been eligible to compete at the Olympics since the 2004 Athens Games, but at this summer’s Tokyo Games, New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard could become the first.
According to International Olympic Committee guidelines, last updated in 2015, transgender women are eligible to compete if their total testosterone level in serum has been below 10 nanomoles per liter for at least 12 months. Weightlifting’s international federation follows these guidelines and Hubbard, who transitioned nearly ten years ago, is playing by the rules.
But the news of Hubbard’s likely Olympic qualification still sparked debate. Some media outlets promoted narratives about unfairness, while an Australia-based group that claims to advocate for women’s sports issued a statement against Hubbard competing in Tokyo, saying that including transgender women “removes the basis of equality between men and women.”
The true threats to women’s equality in sports, however, is certainly not transgender athletes.
Underrepresentation in coaching and management positions, unequitable investment and sexual harassment and abuse are pieces of the puzzle that are blocking true equality for women’s sporting.