The three medallists who won the +87kg weightlifting competition at the Tokyo Olympics had very little to say about Laurel Hubbard, the Olympics’ first transgender athlete, when asked by the press for their thoughts on Hubbard’s inclusion.
Hubbard’s participation at the Tokyo Olympics, however short-lived, provoked a firestorm of debate around the participation of female-identifying transgender individuals in professional sports.
Following their victory on Tuesday, the three women, gold medallist Li Wenwen of China, silver medallist Emily Campbell of Great Britain, and bronze medallist Sarah Robles of the United States, were more than talkative about their experiences until asked about Hubbard, a 43-year-old male who identifies as a woman.
“There was a historic night here, with Laurel Hubbard competing as the first openly transgender in an individual event,” said a reporter to the female weightlifters. “I was wondering what you felt about that, and what took place in your sport.”
Following a long, uncomfortable pause — in which Robles took two sips of water — Robles finally spoke up to say the words, “No thank you.”
Her remarks were met by widespread support from women on social media, some of whom even produced artwork to celebrate the sentiment of her words. The hashtag #NoThankYou also trended briefly on Twitter.
Earlier this week, Hubbard failed to move beyond the snatch lift at the competition. In her first attempt, Hubbard tried and failed to lift 120kg. This failure was followed by a shaky attempt at lifting a 125kg overhead.
According to the Daily Wire, one of the female commentators remarked that it was surprising that the questionable lift was not challenged with an appeal. The jury later ruled the try a “no lift,” per ESPN.
Hubbard’s third attempt did not fare much better, having failed to lift 125kg, effectively terminating Hubbard’s time at the Olympics. The repeated failures prompted the transgender weightlifter to give up and quit the sport completely.
“That is the end of Laurel Hubbard,” said an excited female announcer as Hubbard waved to cameras.
“Age has caught up with me,” said the aging transgender athlete in a post-game interview. At 43, Hubbard is more than 20 years older than other competitors in the women’s weightlifting event.
“In fact if we’re being honest it probably caught up with me some time ago,” added Hubbard. “My involvement in sport is probably due, if nothing else, to heroic amounts of anti-inflammatories, and it’s probably time for me to start thinking about hanging up the boots and concentrating on other things in my life.”
Hubbard praised the International Olympic Committee and its “moral leadership” for ‘inclusive’ policies that allows transgender women to compete against biological women.
“I’m not sure that a role model is something I could ever aspire to be, instead I hope that just by being I can provide some sense of encouragement,” Hubbard said.
While the “moral leadership” of the IOC may call for the inclusion of Hubbard and other transgender athletes, many female professionals have spoken out against separating sports based on gender identity, due to the inherent biological advantages males have over females — which includes biological males receiving hormone therapy, as a study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found.