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A former New Zealand Olympic weightlifter has spoken out on transgender women participating in sports against biological women and acknowledged she had been silenced from speaking out on the topic during her time on the team.

Tracey Lambrechs, who took bronze in the 2014 Commonwealth Games, took silver at the 2015 Pacific Games, and competed in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, shared her thoughts on transgender athletes in an interview published on Tuesday from National Review.

The weightlifter cited a situation in which she had to quickly lose weight to be able to compete in order to make room for a transgender woman on the team, calling it “very upsetting and stressful.”


Her comments come just weeks before fellow New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard is set to compete in the Tokyo Olympics as the first transgender athlete in the history of the games after she met several eligibility requirements.

In 2017, Lambrechs was preparing to participate in the 2018 Commonwealth Games when she was informed that she would need to do it in a lower weight class to make room for Hubbard, who has competed in men’s competitions until 2013.

“I was told if I wanted to go to the next Commonwealth Games, I needed to lose 18 kilograms [the equivalent of almost 40 pounds] in three months or retire,” Lambrechs explained. “Losing that much weight quickly was not ideal for my health, and I suffered some severe migraines and started passing out a lot.”

“Psychologically speaking, it’s very upsetting and stressful,” she said about the initial reaction she was met with when raising her concerns. “We were told not to talk to the media and were warned that if we did, we could bring the sport into disrepute and then could miss out on being selected or could be dropped from national teams. The sport’s national body did not know how to handle the situation, so they had a knee-jerk reaction and thought silence would be best for them.”

Lambrechs added that her stance is not about an antipathy of transgender people or a decision not to recognize them, rather it’s about the sport itself.


“At the end of the day, this hasn’t been easy for Laurel, either. The outcome I’m hoping for is the safety of women’s sports and the inclusion of transgendered athletes where they can participate in sport at whatever level and not be bullied or harassed,” she said. “Everybody has the right to be who they are and happy.”

Transgender athletes have become a dominating narrative in recent months at both the Olympic and local levels. Many conservatives argue that allowing them to compete against those who share their gender identity and not their biological sex would give them an unfair advantage. Critics, however, argue that such exclusion is discriminatory.

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Tags: News, Transgender, Transgender Issues, Olympics, 2020 Olympics, Sports, New Zealand

Original Author: Mike Brest

Original Location: Retired New Zealand weightlifter speaks out on transgender athletes ahead of historic Olympic first