Transgender weightlifter Leslie Hubbard of New Zealand who beat Samoa’s Iuniarra Sipaia by 19 kg in the 90kg division in Australia last weekend
BY Lance Polu
APIA, SAMOA – FRIDAY 24 MARCH 2017: The President of the Samoa Weightlifting Association is strongly against the acceptance of the Transgender weightlifter from New Zealand to compete against women lifters in the upcoming international sports competitions.
Tuaopepe Jerry Wallwork who coached prominent local talent Ele Opeloge who has won Samoa’s first ever medal in the Olympics told Talamua “It is unfair to women and a great disadvantage to all women.”
The former wrestler and weightlifter says he will be protesting against this and will take the issue to the International Weightlifting Federation and the International Olympics Committee.
“You can change hormone levels but your muscles and bones are still male,” he told Talamua.
“To me, this is not much different to drug taking within the women’s divisions.”
Tuaopepe has just seen one of his best lifters beaten to the Gold medal by New Zealand transgender competitor Lauren Hubbard, 39, who made her debut as a contender for the Commonwealth Games in the 90kg+ class at the Australian International in Melbourne last week.
Ms Hubbard, who was born Gavin until she transitioned in her mid-30s, blew her rivals out by winning her division by 19kg.
She lifted a combined total of 268kg – 19kg more than Samoa’s Iuniarra Sipaia, who claimed the silver medal. Australia’s Kaitlyn Fassina came third with 223kg.
Her winning performance means she is in line for selection for the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.
Although she has passed the International Olympic Committee’s criteria for athletes, her win attracted criticism from Australian competitors who claimed it was not fair to have a transgender athlete in the female category.
Tuaopepe stated that women will lose interest in sport as it will be dominated by transgender competitors.
“If they want to accept transgender competitors, then a separate division must be included for them only,” stated Tuaopepe.