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I am the FIRST

Weightlifter Laurel Hubbard makes history as first openly trans athlete to compete at Olympics

New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard made history on Monday as the first openly transgender female athlete to compete at the Olympics.

Why it matters: The presence of trans and nonbinary athletes at this year's Games has been celebrated by LGBTQ+ rights advocates, but stirred controversy among critics, who argue trans women have an unfair advantage even after taking hormones to lower their testosterone.

  • The science on that belief is inconclusive. Also, non-transgender women also have a wide range of naturally occurring testosterone levels.
  • Hubbard, 43, competed in male weightlifting before transitioning at age 35. She qualified for the Tokyo Games in the 87+ kg category after completing the required rules for trans athletes, including suppressing her testosterone levels below a proscribed level (10 nmol/L) for at least a year.

The latest: Hubbard failed to successfully complete any of her three lifts in the snatch portion of the event. She made a heart sign with her hands after her third lift and mouthed "thank you," making history even as she crashed out of the Olympics early.

Photo: Ina Fried/Axios

Be smart: Athletes in Olympic weightlifting compete in two disciplines: snatch, followed by clean and jerk, with the highest combined totals earning the medals.

  • Hubbard is among 10 athletes competing tonight, along with several others who did their lifts earlier in the day.

What she's saying: "I see the Olympic Games as a global celebration of our hopes, ideals and values and I would like to thank the IOC for its commitment to making sport inclusive and accessible," Hubbard said in a statement read on her behalf at an International Olympic Committee briefing last week.

Go deeper: Trans athletes see the Tokyo Games as a watershed moment

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