New Zealand's first transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard speaks out

There can be little doubt New Zealand's first transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard has faced many battles, not the least of which is the chorus of opposition to her competing internationally.

But just days after winning silver at the world champs in California, the 39-year-old overcame another obstacle on Friday, when she spoke about her journey for the first time.

Her silver medals are the first ever claimed by a New Zealand weightlifter at a senior world championships, but criticism of her participation as a transgender athlete threatened to overshadow her achievement.

It's been like that every time she's competed since entering international competition earlier this year. Begging the question - why would you bother?

"I know some people believe that's the course of action I should take, but weightlifting is part of me," she says. "The draw to compete is part of me and I'm not sure that standing back is an option I could have pursued."

Ms Hubbard says she's always loved weightlifting. She changed gender four years ago and complies with all physical conditions put in place by the International Olympic committee.

But some of her rivals' coaching staff have publicly questioned whether she has an unfair psychological advantage, having previously lifted heavier weights as a man.

"Look, I've heard that and I think it's incredibly disrespectful to the other competitors," she says.

"I don't believe there is any fundamental difference between me and the other athletes, and to suggest there is is slightly demeaning to them."

And then there's the personal abuse, including vile and obscene social-media trolling.

"I think, as an athlete, you have to try to shut it out, because it just adds to the weight on the barbell," Ms Hubbard says.

The Queenstown resident has shunned the spotlight until now, preferring to concentrate on her training.

But she doesn't have to look far for advice on being in the public eye - her father Dick Hubbard is a high-profile businessman and former Mayor of Auckland.

"I have a huge amount of respect for my parents and a lot of love, because they've given me so much support over the years, and I suppose the advice my dad has given me over the years is just keep on going, fall over, get back up and keep on going."

Ms Hubbard says that support will continue when Mum and Dad watch from the stands at next year's Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, where she's favoured to win gold.