Laurel Hubbard, a champion weightlifter, has been selected by New Zealand to be part of the New Zealand weightlifting team in Tokyo.
She has been competitively lifting weights for years and is predicted to win medals in the competition.
The only problem is that until a few years ago she was a male weightlifter.
Now, reports are saying that the public feel “betrayed” by the Olympic Committee’s decision to allow Hubbard to compete in the women’s weightlifting division.
Over 21,000 have signed a petition calling for the rules to be changed to ensure a level playing field for less powerful “natural born women”.
The 43-year-old competitive weightlifter will be the first transgender athlete to compete at sport’s highest level.
But when Daily Mail Australia revealed she captained her high school team to glory at Auckland’s exclusive Saint Kentigern Boys’ College in 1994, thousands of outraged readers suggested her inclusion in the female division was distinctly unfair.
‘So many women feel betrayed,’ a woman who knew Laurel when she was a young boy, said.
Hubbard transitioned from a man to a woman in 2012 at the age of 35, after training and competing in male weightlifting competitions since a teenager.
A poll conducted by Daily Mail Australia revealed 96% of participants thought it was unfair that Hubbard had taken a place that could have gone to another female athlete.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) changed their rules in 2015 to allow transgender women to compete once their testosterone levels fall below a specific threshold.
A group named Defend Women’s Sport have taken issue with this and created a petition to “Suspend the International Olympic Committee’s transgender policy”.
The petition argues that Hubbard’s inclusion is “unfair to women due to the incontrovertible physical advantage that transwomen have”.
It argues the testosterone level rule “completely ignores the physical advantages in speed, height, stamina and strength that a male-born athlete will have”, and the policy should be suspended immediately as “women and girls are being sacrificed by the IOC as an easy fix for transgender demands for inclusion”.
Fellow weightlifter Anna Vanbellinghen has slammed Hubbard’s involvement, claiming the inclusion of transgender athletes should not come “at the expense of others”.
Vanbellinghen told insidethegames: “I would like to stress that I fully support the transgender community. However, anyone that has done weightlifting at a high level knows this particular situation is unfair to the sport and to the athletes. The whole thing feels like a bad joke.”
Fellow New Zealander Tracey Lambrechs has also been critical of Hubbard being allowed to compete.
She told TVNZ: “I’m disappointed for the female athlete who will lose out on that spot. We’re all about equality for women in sport but right now that equality is being taken away from us.
“Female weightlifters have said to me, ‘This isn’t fair, what do we do?’
“Unfortunately, there’s nothing we can do because every time we voice it we get told to be quiet.”