Laurel Hubbard Becomes First Transgender Woman to Compete at the Olympics

Laurel Hubbard
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Hubbard made history when she represented New Zealand in the women’s heavyweight competition.

Laurel Hubbard made Olympic history on Monday by becoming the first openly transgender woman to compete in any Games. The 43-year-old athlete represented her home country of New Zealand in the women’s heavyweight competition.

However, Hubbard’s hopes for a medal in the women’s 87+ kilogram competition fell short after she failed all three lift attempts. (Wang Zhouyu from China took the gold while Mattie Rogers from the U.S. placed sixth.)

According to Yahoo! Sports, she later spoke to reporters about her performance as well as the support she received from the International Olympic Committee. 

“Thank you so very much for your interest in my humble sporting performance tonight,” Hubbard said. “I know from a sporting perspective I did not live up to the standards I put upon myself.”

She continued by saying, “I know my participation in these Games has not been entirely without controversy… [The IOC has] been extraordinarily supportive and I think that they have reaffirmed the principles of the Olympics that sport is something that all people around the world can do, that it is inclusive and successful.”

While Hubbard’s appearance at the Games has been met with some controversy, she is one of at least 179 out gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer and nonbinary athletes competing in Tokyo, Japan, at the 2021 Summer Olympic Games -- a record number that includes medal winners Tom Daley, Raven Saunders and Hannah Roberts. 

Ahead of the Games, GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said, “The very presence of so many out LGBTQ athletes is remarkable progress and further evidence of the recognition of LGBTQ people around the globe, as well as proof that competing as your authentic self can and does lead to success.” 

She added, “Every LGBTQ athlete competing this year, as well as the trailblazers who came before them, deserves attention and praise for paving the way for this record-setting year in Tokyo.”