Powerlifting world champ Cathy Millen wants separate class for trans athletes

By Matiu Hamuera

A member and supporter of the Rainbow community with five world championships under her belt thinks there should be a separate class for trans people in sports.

“Why isn't there a separate class?" Cathy Millen told Tapatahi this morning.

She was commenting on the controversial decision to include trans athlete Laurel Hubbard in the NZ women's weightlifting team at the Toyko Olympics next month. Hubbard will be the first official transgender to compete at an Olympics though there have been three transgender  or intersex competitors over the years.

"Why aren’t we giving another class for transgender, and these sorts of sports, in all sports if that’s the issue of them being accepted and included in this level of sport.” Millen said.

But she said she didn't think the controversy was about Hubbard. 

“It's more about, it doesn't really give the biological woman an opportunity to compete against their own,” Millen says.

Not just about the rules

“I feel for her in a lot of ways as she is trying to concentrate on competing at a high level and she's working with this whole situation.”

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern backed the selection yesterday saying rules are rules and that Hubbard meets the guidelines to be included.

Millen said it was not just playing by the rules.

“I think the Prime Minister has been a little bit safe when she says things like that. She's not going down any other sort of line of inquiry about it.”

“There are a few other issues in here and there's a huge physiological advantage when you're biologically born as a male.

" I feel Hubbard is a bit of a pawn in this whole sort of game, and it just takes away opportunities from other women to compete.”

“We've had transgender people in our communities for hundreds of years and suddenly it's an issue, I think there's a bit more at play here than just someone identifying as a man or woman, and if you are allowed to compete in sports.”

 “We don't seem to have an argument the other way do we, with women who identify as men, and why is that?”

 “It will become probably more about transgender competing in women's sport. And really, it's whether women are prepared to put that line in the sand and say 'I’m not going to go there'.” Millen said.