Hubbard: A history or not?

This is the column piece that I submitted for the official campus paper…

Bryan Krister
3 min readApr 4, 2023

Laurel Hubbard is the first openly transgender woman athlete to join weightlifting at the Olympics in a different gender category in which they were born. (Notice how ‘they’ was used so to not offend the subject being referred to.) But for our purposes, ‘she’ would do.

She represented New Zealand in Tokyo, Japan.

In history, we have the “firsts” that we etch. Is Hubbard making a history that we ought to celebrate or a nuisance where letting her in is deemed unwise by the public? This, I dare not answer, and just as how the Augustinian age English poet Alexander Pope said it best in his “An Essay on Criticism,” I would say the same: ‘Tis hard to say.

And yet Pope wrote a three-part essay.

The crack in the system

In the film “The Terminal” (2004), Victor, the protagonist, figuratively fell in a crack while attempting to enter the United States of America. The crack was that his country Krakhozia is in a state of war that the US cannot recognize his papers to have been issued by a country. Stateless, Victor got stuck in the terminal — thus the title of the film that also became its setting — where he gets to wait and survive. The same scenario could have been true for Hubbard. Biological markers are relevant in determining a woman’s “womanness.” Hubbard does not have those: she’s incapable of conceiving a child. In the matters of the Olympics, there are only two gender categories: men and women. Where will Hubbard find her place? In the crack? Good for Victor: the terminal was a good place for him — to wait. But for Hubbard? The Olympics can’t wait.

The problem is the status quo’s unwelcoming inclination to LGBTQIA+ community that the Olympics failed to anticipate other genders joining sports. There has to be new categories as genders emerge. However, it bears pointing out that competing in the Olympics is a different level. Not all members of LGBTQIA+ are into the Olympics, especially weightlifting! We just have to take into account that had there been at least two of them (transwomen) vying for greatness in weightlifting, the Olympics might have let them compete against each other. Hubbard joined on her own. Maybe, just maybe, the Olympics did some justice to her enthusiasm and preparation that she was allowed to compete among women. She fell in a crack, of course. The crack of dilemma for the organizers of the Olympics.

Hubbard’s case speaks volumes about other else. Say, the case of same-sex couples wanting to tie the knot, but ecclesiastical institutions are not welcome to this proposition or are tongue-tied themselves. Or a samesex couple’s nightmare after one is ill in the hospital and the hospital does not allow the same-sex partner to pay his or her visit. All of these things enter the frame of how closed our status quo is, that it needs mending.

The most important feature

The Slovenian philosopher and psychoanalyst Slavoj Zizek shares in one of the myriad of videos one may find about him on YouTube that the most important feature in the LGBTQIA+ is “plus” itself — the oftneglected feature. Fundamentally, members of the community want to express their very freedom. But to Zizek, the more one fits in a category (say, a gender), the more unfree one is. It is also noticeable how the LGBT came to be LGBTQIA+ nowadays as more genders come about and get to particularize.

“Plus” itself is the undefinable feature; it is an open space where it does not categorize and lock anyone into vaguely defined identities. “Plus” is where one is not contained.

This discussion is very thin. Society cannot just assign “plus” as a gender category in itself. And this, too, is a crack.

Social construct

‘Tis hard to say, really. Hubbard might have had biological advantages for being once a man. Biology wise, women who competed with her might have suffered some form of injustice out of the fact that they’re competing with a once-man. Socially speaking, Hubbard got the justice of being able to represent — a social construct — her fellow members of the community.

Gender is a social construct. Sex is a matter of biology. The Olympics is a global event for sports competitions. Weigh in on this: physiques are a big factors to win while competing has its social implications, too, such as formed friendships, discipline, among others.

One can’t really tell Hubbard to simply get lost nor let her in without giving it much thought.



Bryan Krister

Hi, I'm Bryan Krister. I studied BSEd Communication Arts-English and am uploading my compositions here as a hobby. The topics that I write about vary.