Mike's Minute: Transgender athlete debate a minefield

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Tue, 22 Jun 2021, 12:27PM

Mike's Minute: Transgender athlete debate a minefield

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Tue, 22 Jun 2021, 12:27PM

How big a minefield is Laurel Hubbard? The first transgender athlete to compete at an Olympic Games.

You have, of course, two stories. The gender transition, which is being played out in the public eye. In other words, not just a person going through a deeply personal event but doing it in the most public of ways. And as a result, opening themselves up to a great deal of scrutiny.

But then as an outworking of the event, raising the issue of fairness at the highest levels of sport.

On the first part of it you have to admire Hubbard. It's still an area many people struggle with, and you can't possibly blame her for not talking to any one publicly about it.

But you do also have the right to question whether that is going to need to change. It's one thing to look to create new rules, to ask authorities to consider aspects of entry and participation that haven't been considered before, and then having done that successfully, you then have nothing to say.

And then the athletic side of the equation.

It is generally accepted that given the sport Hubbard is in and having competed in the same sport as a male, she must have an advantage over her fellow competitors. This is about physical prowess, it's about muscle and strength, and there is no getting around the fact she arrives with a different muscle structure than her fellow competitors.

Making it even more vexing is the age in which we live. I admire those who have spoken out, not just because I happen to agree with them, but because such is the repression of the age it's easier not to.

But the simple truth is it's unfair, it's not a level playing field. You can fully understand those who have dedicated their entire lives to an Olympic moment feeling aggrieved at the Hubbard ruling.

In the regular world, inclusivity is to be encouraged, empathy abounds, and understanding is the order of the day. But that’s not what we are talking about, those emotions and reactions are attached to Hubbard's personal journey.

The athletic aspect is about competitive edge and winning and losing.

In our desire to fall over ourselves to be inclusive, we've forgotten the argument that just maybe, it’s a price she had, or should have had, to pay.

If you want to transition, that’s your story. If after that, you also want the rules changed and those rules give an undue advantage at Olympic level, maybe someone should have been a bit more honest and a bit less politically correct.