Controversy Ensues as Transgender Athlete Wins Gold at the Samoa 2019 Pacific Games

Controversy at the Samoa 2019 Pacific Games.

Once again the question of whether it’s fair for transgender athletes to compete as women has reared its head. The controversy sparked after a recent weightlifting event seems to have answered that question rather thoroughly.


Recently at the Samoa 2019 Pacific Games Laurel Hubbard of New Zealand took home two gold medals in the Women’s 87kg (191 Pound) division with a 268kg (590 Pound) total lift. Laurl Hubbard also took top honors in winning the snatch competition with 125kg (275 Pound) lift.

The controversy comes in when you consider the fact that Laurel Hubbard was born Gavin Hubbard. Before transitioning in 2012, Gavin Hubbard was a talented weightlifter representing New Zealand for years. Now Laurel Hubbard, the weightlifter has made the switch from competing against men to facing off against women. Suffice it to say that not everyone is a fan.

There’s a clear public outcry for this situation, many women believing that they are being marginalized by having an experienced former men’s weightlifter be allowed to compete due to their transgender status.

Mata’afa Keni Lesa, writer for The Samoan Observer, was not pleased with the results of the 2019 Pacific Games. Lesa went on to site some pretty controversial opinions in his article for the news outlet.

“We just cannot stop thinking about Feagaiga Stowers,” wrote Lesa.

“Having been chosen as Samoa’s flag bearer, this Pacific Games was supposed to have been her moment.

“This was until she stepped up on the weightlifting platform on Saturday where her hopes of clinching a Pacific Games gold – and that of a proud nation – were crushed by a fellow competitor, Laurel Hubbard.

“Hubbard had represented New Zealand as Gavin Hubbard in international competitions.

“Yes he lifted against people like himself, boys and men that is, where he rightfully belonged. That was until he changed his mind and became a transgender. Many of us know the story. Hubbard’s story is one of many cases, where political correctness has allowed a blatant wrong to be accepted. Which is okay, I suppose, given the way the world is today. To each their own.

“But where we have an issue, and where people in positions of power to right this wrong should act immediately, is when Hubbard denies the opportunity for women like Stowers to claim what is rightfully theirs.”

Those are some powerful words to say the least. Lesa is siting the fact that Feagaiga Stowers, who took second at the Pacific Games, would have been crowned champion at the event if not for Laurel Hubbard’s participation. The reality is however that Laurel Hubbard deserves none of the blame here.

Sanctioning bodies exist for a reason and it is on them to come up with a solution for this issue. Either things will remain the same and we all have to get used to it or another decision must be made. It’s as simple as that.

For now, the controversy is likely to continue for the months and years to come. Laurel Hubbard has a major opportunity to potentially compete for her native New Zealand in the 2020 Olympics. Certain legal issues could be a mountain that she has to climb, but Hubbard could potentially take this issue of inclusion to a whole new level if she’s able to compete at next year’s Olympics.

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Managing Editor at Generation Iron, Jonathan Salmon is a writer, martial arts instructor, and geek culture enthusiast. Check out his Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to keep up with his antics.

Header image courtesy of Envato Elements

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