Patrick Gower: Laurel Hubbard is a deserving New Zealand hero

OPINION: Laurel Hubbard might have failed to win a gold medal for weightlifting, but she definitely won gold when it comes to making the world a better place.

Her true success is breaking down the barriers for transgender people and forcing many of us to confront the confusing questions about how they fit into our society.

Laurel Hubbard is a woman who was trapped in a man's body.

The key part of that sentence is "Laurel Hubbard is a woman".

I firmly believe Laurel Hubbard has a right to compete as woman.

She fits within the rules of the Commonwealth Games - end of story.

For those of us who know and understand the struggles faced by transgender people and those who have gone through "transition",  Laurel Hubbard was a champion before she even put her hands on the bars.

That is because transgender people have spent their lives facing scorn and whispers about being weird just by walking down the street.

Laurel Hubbard has got onto the world stage to face the same ignorance multiplied by the millions.

We must also remember that back in the day, sport was developed for men by men - women weren't allowed to even compete.

But over time, sport has changed.

And as we learn more about the human body and understand the different ways people are born, then sport will need to change.

As I said, I firmly believe Laurel Hubbard has a right to compete as a woman.  

I also firmly believe that everybody has a right to play sport. I'm sure everybody agrees with that.

Like all societal shifts, in the years to come people will look back at the treatment of transgender people and wonder what all the fuss was about.

And like all societal shifts, every now and then strong people need to make a stand to help get them to happen.

Laurel Hubbard is one of those people.

Her strength is so much more than with the weightlifting bars - it is about breaking barriers.

And that makes her a true champion and a New Zealand hero.

Patrick Gower is Newshub's national correspondent.