Transgender lifter asks critics to keep open mind

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WELLINGTON (Reuters) - Transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard has urged critics of her competing as a woman to keep an open mind after she won a silver medal at the world championships earlier this week.

The 39-year-old New Zealander, who lived as Gavin Hubbard until four years ago and competed at national level as a man, finished second in the women's super-heavyweights behind Sarah Robles of the United States on Tuesday.

Hubbard initially came to prominence earlier this year following a competition in Australia and has been criticised by some coaches and fellow lifters, including by some at the world championships in Anaheim, who claim she has an advantage.

"I can't control what they feel or believe and it's not my job to tell them what to believe or what to think," she told the New Zealand Herald on Friday.

"I would ask people to keep an open mind and perhaps look to the fact that I didn't win as evidence that any advantage I may hold is not as great as they may think."

Hubbard, who has qualified for next year's Commonwealth Games on Australia's Gold Coast, added she was 'not a robot' and some of the criticism had affected her, but she felt society had become more accepting of transgender people.

"I think 10 years ago people weren't ready for an athlete like myself and perhaps some aren't ready now," she said.

"Not everyone supports me, not everyone accepts me but there are people out there that do, that's been great (and) ... I got a sense that people are willing to consider me now for these competitions.

"I had to wait until the world changed and I'm glad it did."

(Writing by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Nick Mulvenney)

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