P.M. calls on Pacific Games Council to address transgender concerns

Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, has appealed to the Pacific Games Council to address concerns surrounding the eligibility of transgender athletes to compete against women.

The call comes on the back of Kiwi transgender weightlifter, Laurel Hubbard, who won gold in the weightlifting competition last week in the Pacific Games, when she lifted 268kg in the women's 87kg category to beat local favourite, Feagaiga Stowers.

Speaking to the media yesterday, the Prime Minister said he was shocked when he first heard about it.

“This fa’afafine or man should have never been allowed by the Pacific Games Council President to lift with the women," he said. "I was shocked when I first heard about it."

Tuilaepa is the oldest athlete in the Pacific Games

According to Tuilaepa, Samoa's sole representative on the Pacific Games Council, Samoa Association of Sports and National Olympic Committee (S.A.S.N.O.C.) President Fepulea’i Patrick Fepulea’i, is just one voice. 

“And it appears that is the case nowadays," he said.

"No matter how we look at it, he’s a man and it’s shocking this was allowed in the first place.” 

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He then gave as an example how international sport bodies are putting in place rules that benefit the elites of the sports.

“The same with rugby," he said, "where  World Rugby Council has allowed Britain to have four rugby teams when all the other countries each have one team. 

“And yet it is allowed by the World Rugby Council.

"When the Olympics allowed rugby, the British attempted to have four teams but it was flatly denied."

The Prime Minister said it appears the Pacific Games is following suit, which has led to the Laurel Hubbard case and the controversy it has created. 

“I made a public announcement on national TV," he said. "I questioned the legitimacy of allowing transgender to lift with women. It is not easy for the female athletes to train all year long to compete and yet we allow these stupid things to happen. 

"The reality is that gold medal belongs to Samoa,” he said. 

He then urged the S.AS.N.O.C. President, Fepuleai, to address the issue with urgency.

The Prime Minister also questioned the independence of the International sporting bodies as well as the respective governments. 

He said there should be an additional category for the third and fourth genders. Tuilaepa said these categories should be called the "transgender" and "tomboy."


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