Belgian Olympic weightlifter Anna Vanbellinghen, who was born a woman, is blasting the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for allowing a transgender athlete born a man to compete as a woman in the coming world games in Tokyo.
The IOC has approved transgender New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard who “transitioned” from male to female in 2012. Hubbard was on track to compete at a previous Olympics until suffering an injury.
But Belgian Olympian Vanbellinghen is not at all happy with the decision, calling Hubbard’s inclusion a “bad joke.”
“I understand that for sports authorities nothing is as simple as following your common sense and that there are a lot of impracticalities when studying such a rare phenomenon, but for athletes, the whole thing feels like a bad joke,” Vanbellinghen said, according to InsideTheGames.
“Life-changing opportunities are missed for some athletes – medals and Olympic qualifications – and we are powerless,” the female weightlifter added.
“Of course, this debate is taking place in a broader context of discrimination against transgender people, and that is why the question is never free of ideology,” she said. “However, the extreme nature of this particular situation really demonstrates the need to set up a stricter legal framework for transgender inclusion in sports, and especially elite sports.”
Vanbellinghen added, “I do believe that everyone should have access to sports, but not at the expense of others.”
Others agree with Vanbellinghen. Mark House, an attorney who has assisted U.S. weightlifting with legal issues, said he also disagrees with the IOC’s decision to allow Hubbard to compete as a woman in Tokyo.
House told InsideTheGames that he agrees with the many fans on social media who have criticized Hubbard’s inclusion in the female categories.
“I admit to being one of them, not because of any outrage at how Hubbard qualified – there is nothing wrong with that – but because her participation will seriously diminish the chances of having a rational discussion about transgender policies. She should not take her opportunity,” he admitted.
“If an American or a Briton is displaced by Hubbard on the podium in Tokyo, it will spotlight transgender policy, at least in the western world, to a far greater degree,” he said, adding, “The question then becomes: Is Laurel Hubbard the person advocates want to be the face of transgender policy?”
“The question is rhetorical because the answer is obviously ‘no,'” he concluded.
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