Hall of fame Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre this week slammed the Olympics for allowing transgender athletes to compete, following the news that New Zealand weightlifter Laural Hubbard recently became the first trans woman to qualify for the games.
“It’s a man competing as a woman,” the Trump-supporting Mr Favre said, misgendering Ms Hubbard and incorrectly claiming that trans people remain the gender out of which they transition. “That’s unfair. It’s not fair for a man, even if this person wants to be a woman or feels compelled – if you want to become the opposite sex, that’s fine. I got no problem with it. But you can’t compete against – males cannot compete against females.”
“If I was a true female, and I can’t believe I’m saying that, and I was weightlighting and lost to this person, I would be beside myself,” he continued.
In 2015, the International Olympic Committee began allowing trans women to compete so long as their testosterone levels remain within certain parameters. Ms Hubbard, who previously competed as a man, transitioned in 2013. The weightlifting competition is divided by weight class, so any physical differences between Ms Hubbard and others is unlikely to make a difference.
Mr Favre is hardly known as a gender advocate in sport, having been accused by team staff members and a sport journalist of sexual harassment. The QB was fined $50,000 by the NFL, and settled a lawsuit with some of the women in 2013.
The international sporting community has at times struggled over making competition reflect the modern understanding of gender, compared to leagues like America’s WNBA, where the openly trans, non-binary Layshia Clarendon competes.
The decorated South African runner Caster Semenya, a woman whose body produces high levels of testosterone, won’t compete in this year’s Olympics, after losing an appeal to world authorities to continue declining to take testosterone-reducing drugs and still qualify.
Mr Favre’s comments mirror a broader trend among conservatives, who have renewed a nationwide push to limit trans kids access to healthcare, sports, and bathrooms that match their gender.
Health experts have warned that these bills further isolate and stigmatise trans youth, who suffer extremely high rates of suicide and mental health challenges, owing to the societal discrimination they face.
Caitlyn Jenner, perhaps the country’s most prominent trans politician, is running for governor in California as a Republican, and has said that trans girls shouldn’t be allowed to play in women’s sports, brushing off the issue and telling Fox News’s Sean Hannity in May there are “more problems in the state of California than that”.