News: Discrimination Against Intersex Athletes Rising Controversy
by Joshua Adoh
In a recently ended year-long court case, female South African runner Caster Semenya has been given a choice.
This choice was appointed by recent ruling from the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) due to her abnormal high testosterone levels to either, “forcibly alter her body’s natural hormones, or give up international competition,” according to Vice Sports News.
This unique situation has brought about an alarming ultimatum. On one hand, you would think it is not right to forcibly change an athlete’s natural gender, but on the other hand a female athlete with noticeably high testosterone levels can have extremely unfair advantages.
Vice Sports News explains that the Caster Semenya situation fell into the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) territory, which mandates medical intervention for Differences of Sex Development (DSD) individuals.
Despite the obvious athletic advantages, I do not think these regulations should require intersex female athletes – like Semenya – to forcibly lower their testosterone levels to align with IAAF maximum limits prescribed for females.
In this specific case, Semenya was born with abnormally high testosterone levels, so who is IAAF to forcibly alter a person’s human genetics. At this point, one should think to themselves: how important is this sport? Is it worth forcibly suppressing the natural hormone that your body produces?
In my honest opinion, I have never cared about what people do with their bodies, because in this day and age everyone has the right to believe what they think is right or wrong. It is not our place as fellow humans to try and convince them otherwise. However, it does frighten me to see people making life-altering decisions for something as trivial as entertainment.
I am not saying this to discredit athletes to any degree, female or male, because as an athlete myself I understand the importance, but I draw the line at having artificial procedures done on my body. The biggest question that I would like to ask you – the reader – is where would you draw the line?
“The DSD policy represents the tortured lengths international sports associations will go to ensure a vague ideal of “fairness” in sports. After decades of doping concerns, the IAAF is now ruling that some athletes must alter their body’s natural hormones just to compete,” states Vice Sports News.
There has been some that came to the defense of athletes like Samenya – such as Dr. Silvia Camporesi.
“Dr. Camporesi is a bioethicist at King’s College who has previously written in defense of Semenya’s right to compete without altering her natural hormone levels,” stated Vice Sports News.
In a recent interview with Vice, Camporesi stated that the CAS verdict is ‘weird,’ in part because the court initially admitted that “there is not enough evidence to support the regulations.”
Camporesi notes that the CAS decision was made based on theoretical ideas about potential advantages, and “not on evidence of a concrete advantage.”
The fact that there is not enough evidence to support the IAAF regulation proves that there is no real logical reasoning behind this real rule, merely theoretical ideas.
“Semenya’s female competitors will remain at a disadvantage even if she agrees to lower her testosterone levels (which can be achieved by taking oral contraceptives) because Semenya will still have a higher-than-average level of the hormone as well as the additional advantage of a lifetime of higher testosterone exposure, which means greater bone and muscle density and lung capacity, among other physical benefits,” states a recent article from Christine Rosen.
This is a pretty ugly situation for Caster Semenya, and a radical move on the IAAF behalf. Whether or not she has the medical procedure, she will still have physical advantages.
In my opinion, the IAAF ruling is unfair and should be reversed immediately.