Aussie Olympian Tamsyn Lewis has ignited fresh controversy around transgender athletes and their ability to participate in male and female only events.
This week it came to light that a record number of transgender athletes will be competing at the Tokyo Olympics.
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That sparked renewed concerns about male-born athletes competing in female events.
Lewis, who competed for Australia in athletics, on Wednesday told 2GB the International Olympic Committee needed to take immediate action to address the furore.
“People are scared to come out and say anything because of political correctness,” Lewis told Ben Fordham.
“This is an issue that’s a really difficult issue. Not even the IOC can come to the proper guidelines.
“It is politically charged and it’s a sensitive topic [but] if we don’t make a stand, what’s going to happen to that female category of sport?”
Fordham said action needed to be taken to protect female athletes.
“That’s just not fair,” he said.
“And considering that Olympic competition is all about fairness. All about a level playing field, why don't they understand that this is just not fair?
“That is the great fear here. It’s not about discouraging transgender athletes, it’s about encouraging female athletes.”
Piers Morgan blasts Kiwi weightlifter’s inclusion
On Thursday Piers Morgan weighed into the debate, taking aim at the inclusion of transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard in New Zealand’s team for an event in Canberra.
Hubbard is in Canberra for the International Weightlifting Federation Australian Weightlifting Open, hoping to qualify for the Tokyo Games.
“This is insane. Women’s rights to basic fairness & equality are getting destroyed at the altar of political correctness,” Morgan posted on Twitter.
“Trans women born with biological male bodies have a massive physical advantage against women born with female bodies in any sport where power & strength are significant factors.
“This shouldn’t be a contentious claim, it’s just a rather obvious fact.”
This is insane. Women’s rights to basic fairness & equality are getting destroyed at the altar of political correctness. https://t.co/XnlGNmdVV4— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) February 26, 2020
Trans women born with biological male bodies have a massive physical advantage against women born with female bodies in any sport where power & strength are significant factors. This shouldn’t be a contentious claim, it’s just a rather obvious fact. https://t.co/FQ5xfFMwN4— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) February 26, 2020
Renewed criticism of IOC’s guidelines
Hubbard, who competed for New Zealand in men's weightlifting before her transition in her thirties, won two golds and a silver in three of the women's heavyweight categories at the the Pacific Games last July.
With Hubbard free to compete in Tokyo, the 41-year-old has become a lightning rod for criticism of the IOC guidelines for the inclusion of transgender athletes.
IOC guidelines issued in 2015 said any transgender athlete could compete as a woman provided their testosterone levels are below 10 nanomoles per litre for at least 12 months prior to their first competition.
That has been criticised by some scientists, who say it does little to mitigate natural biological advantages enjoyed by male-born athletes, including bone and muscle density.
Researchers at the Dunedin-based University of Otago said in a peer-reviewed study published last year that the IOC guidelines were "poorly drawn" and the mandated testosterone level was still “significantly higher” than that of women.
The study advocated that the IOC ditch its “binary” approach to competition and consider introducing a transgender category or find another solution that balances the desire for inclusion with the need for a level playing field.
However the research was dismissed by transgender advocates and athletes.
“The opinions of scientists although valid, are just that, opinions,” said New Zealand mountain biker Kate Weatherly, who transitioned as a teenager and has become a national champion competing against women.
“I'm not winning by crazy margins and the anecdotal evidence does point to me having little to no advantage.”
Hubbard has shunned the media since competing at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, where she was favourite to win heavyweight gold but injured herself during a lift in the competition.