Laurel Hubbard: Olympic adviser discusses testosterone levels
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Speaking to LBC’s Tom Swarbrick, Dr Joanna Harper, who is a PhD researcher at Loughborough University and Olympic advisor, explained that the inclusion of Laurel Hubbard, 43, is not “unfair” and offers “meaningful competition” to women in her weightlifting cateogry. But despite saying the inclusion is ok from a competition angle, the doctor acknowledged the decision still “doesn’t eliminate everything” as she accepted there could be advantages for Hubbard against ‘cisgender’ women. Her comments come as the weightlifter’s presence at the games has caused controversy as being “unfair competition” but advocates say it marks a momentous shift in official recognition of transgender women who have struggled for equal treatment.
Dr Harper accepted: “It is absolutely true that lowering testosterone won’t eliminate all of the advantages accrued during male type puberty.
“But it does mitigate them to the point where I believe where in most sports we can have meaningful competition between trans women and cis gender or typical women.”
But host Tom Swarbrick questioned the biological difference such as “bone density” and “muscle mass” which exist between men and women and how that could be seen as an unfair physiological advantage.
The advisor replied: “Muscle mass will be reduced, bone density will eventually come down.
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“Haemoglobin levels very quickly go from male to female levels within four months… with the reduction of testosterone.
“But again it doesn’t eliminate everything.”
But she stressed how she believed “mitigate the advantages” to the point where we women and trans athletes can “have meaningful competition” without an unfair advantage.”
Swarbrick went on to probe how other women in weightlifting, and sport more widely, feel about the inclusion of Hubbard.
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He asked: “What do you say to women who have missed out on being able to compete in this weightlifting competition because of the inclusion of Laurel Hubbard?”
Dr Harper said: “Laurel Hubbard is eligible for the competition, she qualified, not everybody gets to qualify.”
She explained how another trans woman, BMX rider Chelsea Wolfe, missed qualifying for the Olympics as she lost out to ‘cisgender’ women who took her place.
Mr Swarbrick hit back: “So the cries of ‘it’s unfair’ you say are not right?”
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The Olympic advisor stressed: “I think that the rules in place are reasonable and do permit meaningful conception between trans and cis-women.”
But Save Women’s Sport, a devoted advocate of ‘sex not gender’ sport tweeted: “Unfortunately, we are not in the Twilight Zone. This is our reality. In less than 12 hours Laurel Hubbard, a male, will be competing in women’s weightlifting in the Olympics.”
The competition is also a lifetime achievement for Ms Hubbard, who has cultivated a decades-long weightlifting career – she is expected to finish between “third and 14th” according Joanna Harper.
Ms Hubbard transitioned to female in 2012 and started hormone therapy.
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