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Transgender weightlifter hits back at horrific backlash: ‘I’m not a robot’

Josh Milton December 8, 2017
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - DECEMBER 08: Weightlifter Laurel Hubbard poses during a portrait session on December 8, 2017 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

(Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Transgender athlete Laurel Hubbard has said that she will not let the backlash against her participation in the World Weightlifting Championships affect her.

Last month, the New Zealander made history when she became the first trans person to be chosen to represent the country on a global platform.

The announcement sparked outrage, with Australian Weightlifting Federation chief executive Michael Keelan claiming that Hubbard would have a physiological and mental edge over her rivals.

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - DECEMBER 08:  Weightlifter Laurel Hubbard poses during a portrait session on December 8, 2017 in Auckland, New Zealand.  (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)
(Getty)

But in an interview with Radio New Zealand (RNZ), Hubbard said: “it’s not my role or my goal to change people’s minds.”

After qualifying for the Commonwealth Games, Hubbard, 39, suffered a backlash.

In response, she refused to conduct media interviews and kept a low profile.

But she has broken her silence by speaking to RNZ, opening up about the experience of dealing with critics.

“People will think, they will feel and will believe what is right for them,” she said.

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - DECEMBER 08:  Weightlifter Laurel Hubbard poses during a portrait session on December 8, 2017 in Auckland, New Zealand.  (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)
(Getty)

“I’m not here to change the world, I’m just here to be myself.

“I would hope they would support me, but it’s not for me to make them do so.”

She added that she was “not a robot” and that criticism has affected her, but that society had still become more accepting of transgender people.

“I think 10 years ago people weren’t ready for an athlete like myself, and perhaps some aren’t ready now,” she said.

“Not everyone supports me, not everyone accepts me but there are people out there that do, that’s been great.

“I had to wait until the world changed and I’m glad it did.”

(Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Hubbard is set to compete in the women’s +90kg category in the Commonwealth Games, which provoked criticism from the likes of Keelan.

The Australian Weightlifting Federation chief: “I personally don’t think it’s a level playing field.

“That’s my personal view and I think it’s shared by a lot of people in the sporting world.

“If you’ve been a male and you’ve lifted certain weights and then you suddenly transition to a female, then psychologically you know you’ve lifted those weights before.”

Such transphobia is not uncommon in sport.

Hannah Mouncey was blocked from being drafted into the Australian Women’s Football league earlier this year for being trans.

Incidents like this have led to people calling for more LGBT+ representation in sport.

Watch Hubbard’s emotional interview below:

More: athlete, laurel hubbard, New Zealand, New Zealand, sport, Trans, Transgender, transphobia, weightlifter, weightlifting

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