A TRANSGENDER sports expert claims that trans weightlifter Laurel Hubbard will not have any sort of major advantage over the rest of the field while competing at the Tokyo Olympics this summer.
The 43-year-old's inclusion in New Zealand's female weightlifting team has drawn international attention and divided opinion around the globe.
Hubbard, who was born a male and used to compete in men's weightlifting competitions before transitioning in 2012, will become the very first trans athlete to compete at the Games in Olympic history, but many feel her inclusion is a violation of equality and fairness.
Though an expert in the field of transgender sport, Joanna Harper, disputes this.
Speaking to Sportsmail, Ms Harper said that while transgender women do have an enhanced physical development, it isn't an overwhelming advantage, particularly for Hubbard, as she'll be taking part in a competition subdivided into weight categories.
"Even if there is an advantage, is it an overwhelming advantage? Certainly not, because there is one Chinese athlete who will easily outfit Laurel Hubbard.
"All these women are big and strong. Hubbard is not going to win. She has an outside shot at a medal.
"Is it exactly a level competition? Maybe not, but there is no advantage that Hubbard has that overwhelms some of the advantages some of the other women have."
Harper also said that not enough research has gone into deciphering whether trans women truly do have a physical advantage over others or not, particularly as there are regulations about testosterone levels already in place.
It brings into focus a wider debate about equality. On the one hand, many argue that trans individuals have a right to compete in a way they see fit and feel comfortable with.
On the other hand, many claim that by allowing this, it impacts fairness in women's sport, and that men and women don't compete against each other physically for a reason, something highlighted by director of British group Fair Play for Women, Dr Nicola Williams.
"Whether Hubbard wins a medal doesn't matter. A female weightlifter has lost out on her place at the Olympics," she said.