Trans weightlifter Laurel Hubbard hailed a ‘hero’ after making Olympics history

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The Olympic dream of New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard has come to an end after she failed to lift 125kg in the +87kg women’s weightlifting final.

Competing in Tokyo today, Hubbard was unable to register a lift in the snatch – she missed at 120kg and then 125kg.

Athletes are not allowed to proceed to the clean and jerk portion of the competition without recording a successful snatch, meaning Laurel Hubbard is now out of this year’s Olympic Games.

Despite failing to win a medal, Hubbard’s Olympic journey is now part of trans sporting history – Hubbard was the first openly trans woman to compete at the Olympics. The Tokyo Games will also see Canadian footballer Quinn become the first out trans Olympian to take home a medal, and non-binary skateboarder Alana Smith made history as the first non-binary athlete to compete for Team USA.

Hubbard’s road to the Olympics was plagued by transmisogyny, and she understandably kept quiet, off social media, and focused on the competition in the face of relentless hostility from the press. But the representation she brought to the Olympics matters – as trans and non-binary weightlifters told PinkNews, seeing her at the Olympics was a “vindicating and monumental” moment.

“Laurel Hubbard, for months, has been the most hated trans woman on the planet and that is saying something,” trans news outlet What The Trans?! wrote on Twitter after Hubbard bowed out of the Olympics.

“And all she did was really want to lift and be damned good at it. She did it anyway. Hubbard is a hero. She showed up and said ‘no’ to those who booed. Powerful.”

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Trans journalist Gemma Stone added: “[Laurel Hubbard] deserves a medal just based on the weight of all the bigotry she’s had to carry alongside her for so long now.

“If we do community awards, she has my vote.”

Laurel Hubbard gets standing ovation as she bows out of Olympics

Laurel Hubbard received a standing ovation in Tokyo after she bowed out of the competition, and thanked the crowd for their support.

Whilst she reportedly was avoiding social media ahead of the women’s weightlifting final, trans people and allies had logged on to wish her well.

“I’ll be cheering on Laurel Hubbard today,” wrote Reesha Dyer, a singer-songwriter. “I understand she is avoiding social media, very sensible of her, but I hope she knows how many of us have her back.

“Also, hugs to my trans friends, today is gonna be a ride, regardless of how well she does.”

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Toryn Glavin, who works at LGBT+ charity Stonewall, said she was sending Laurel Hubbard “all my love” ahead of the final.

“In the UK the moronic sex not gender hashtag is trending this morning,” Glavin added. “Can TERFs take a day off? Silly tiny people.

“Go get gold Laurel, millions of trans people are rooting for you.

“Not matter how well she does she’s our champion.”

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Speaking to RNZ in December 2017, Laurel Hubbard reflected on the transphobia she had faced as a result of her history-making win.

“People believe what they believe and when they’re shown something which is maybe new and different to what they know, it’s instinctive to be defensive,” she said.

“Look, I can’t really speak for other people and what they feel, and what they think, and what they believe, and it’s not really my job to change what they think, what they feel or what they believe, but I just hope they look at the bigger picture rather than just trusting whatever their gut might have told them.”

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