Tokyo Olympics: Laurel Hubbard transgender debate branded 'dehumanising', as Games weightlifting event looms

NZ Olympic boss Kereyn Smith describes backlash against transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard as "dehumanising".

The Kiwi is set to become the first ever transgender Olympian in Monday's +87kg women’s and officials are already bracing themselves for backlash.

Hubbard will make history in Tokyo, but her Games involvement is contentious and the battle she's fighting away from the sporting area is frustrating Kiwi officials.

"Definitely, I think it can be dehumanising," says Smith. "I have certainly seen evidence of that, with some of the comments that have been made.

"I think we have to be mindful that Laurel Hubbard is a person and she has feelings."

Hubbard has now touched down in Tokyo, ready to perform, and the NZ Olympic Committee says it will protect her where it can, even organising meetings with the world's media to discuss trans-issues.

"We appreciate the eyes of the world are on us and on Laurel in this competition, and it's a big stage, so it's just our job to do everything we can, just to protect her."

Hubbard's involvement has been a lightning rod for international debate, because weightlifting is a power-based sport.

Critics argue she has the physical advantages from experiencing male puberty, but the Olympics top medical boss says it's not that simple.

But you have to weigh that against all the other disadvantages of going on through transition,” says IOC medical director Richard Bugett. “It is not something any individual would ever take lightly.

No-one knows how the world will react if Hubbard wins a medal.

She has already experienced years of criticism, even from some Kiwi athletes.

"Laurel having an Olympic medal is going to upset a lot of people," says NZ weightlifter Tracey Lambrech.

Under the current rules, each individual sport decides what's fair. The IOC will soon offer new guidelines, but that might not change much in weightlifting.

Hubbard has released a statement, thanking the IOC for being inclusive. The 43-year-old hopes the conversation turns to competition on Monday.