Monday, October 19, 2020

Intersex Athletes in Athletics


    Caster Semenya, a world and Olympic champion in the 800m, doesn't lose a lot. However, she recently lost her appeal about the IAAF's female testosterone level regulations. This appeal went all the way to Switzerland's Supreme Court and winning would've allowed her to compete in the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. Semenya has unusually high testosterone levels for a female, more than three times higher than the average female. This is due to a rare condition called 5-alpha-reductase. People with this condition are XY; however, they don't make enough dihydrotestosterone, a hormone that affects male sexual development, and are as born as intersex. Most people are raised as females and don't know about their condition until puberty when they develop male characteristics. Her high testosterone levels are viewed as an advantage by many including the IAAF, the world's governing body for track and field. In 2018, the IAAF set new regulations on testosterone levels for female athletes competing in events ranging from the 400 meters to the 1500 meters. If female athletes had testosterone levels that were too high, they would either have to compete as male or take hormone suppression pills. Semenya refused to take take these pills which is how we got to where we are today. In my opinion, there's no right answer to this situation. I don't think it's a bit unfair for women with normal testosterone levels to compete against her but I also think it's even more unfair and unethical for Semenya to have to alter her testosterone levels without a medical reason to. I hope they can make a some sort of compromise that will allow her to compete and is also ethical and safe. 

1 comment:

  1. This post was very interesting, I never knew there were intersex people in the Olympics, nor was I aware that there were regulations for non-steroidal hormone level. I agree with you in that there is no right answer to this situation, it is too complicated to come up with a simple solution for.