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USA weightlifting chief says anyone opposing transgender athletes will find themselves ‘on the wrong side of history’

USA weightlifting chief says anyone opposing transgender athletes will find themselves ‘on the wrong side of history’
Phil Andrews, the boss of USA Weightlifting, says that gender parity can be achieved in the sport but warns that transgender people who compete should also see their performances met with "fairness in competition".

Andrews' comments come amid significant debate within the sport as to the fairness of having transgender women competing against athletes who were born female, with the case of New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard garnering intense media interest in recent weeks.

Hubbard, who was born male and transitioned to female in her thirties, was granted permission by the International Olympic Council [IOC] to compete in this summer Olympic Games in Tokyo. Hubbard had also competed in weightlifting as a male but their performances fell short of Olympic standard.

Andrews, though, says that those opposing Hubbard's entry to the Olympics will find themselves "on the wrong side of history" and called for clearly defined rules for equity and fairness within the weightlifting ranks.

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"Those who totally disfavor inclusion will likely be on the wrong side of history. However, this must be balanced with fairness in competition," British-born Andrews told MailOnline.

"The key challenge for sport federations is to define what fairness looks like in order to become more inclusive. There is no reason why every country shouldn't be able to achieve gender parity in weightlifting."

Guidelines listed by USA Weightlifting outline the process a transgender athlete must adhere to if their application is to be successful, including a meeting with the athlete and, in the cases of women transitioning to men, documentation being provided to show that adequate hormone therapies have been undertaken which "should show evidence that hormone therapy has been administered in a verifiable manner and for a sufficient length of time (two year minimum) to minimize gender related competitive advantages".

"If gender confirmation surgery is desired, the surgery has been completed, the athlete is in good health, and has been cleared by their surgeon to participate in Weightlifting," theyadd.

Andrews emphasizes that the rules imposed within the sport are to ensure that the importance of gender identity for their athletes is recognized.

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"Through our policy for transgender inclusion, we recognise the importance of gender identity and expression regardless of gender assignment at birth, with the aim of providing athletes a safe and inclusive environment to compete, but while recognizing the need to be fair to athletes in a power sport.

"Our goal is to give transgender athletes a fair opportunity to participate in competitive sport, and to do so in a fair manner to all concerned."

Andrew added that these rules have proved popular with athletes of all genders within USA Weightlifting, who he says "very much values inclusion".

On the other side of the coin, others have spoken about feeling "betrayed" by the IOC's decision to allow Hubbard to compete this summer. A petition opposing Hubbard's Olympic status gained more than 21,000 signatures online.

New Zealand Olympic weightlifter Tracey Lambrechs, meanwhile, argued that two gold medals should be issued in Hubbard's weight category if she wins her division in Tokyo.

Also on rt.com ‘Women feel betrayed’: Online petition against transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard’s Olympic status hits over 20K signatures

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