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https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2018/may/01/caster-semenya-iaaf-science-athletics-testosterone


They say there are six tics that tell you when someone’s bluffing. When it comes to Caster Semenya and the IAAF, here’s a seventh. Be wary of anyone who says it’s all straightforward. The Semenya case isn’t just about sport, or sex, or gender, but ethics, politics, culture, race, and science. Expert opinion is split. Which is why the arguments have been going back and forth for the best part of a decade, and the case now seems bound to return to the court of arbitration for sport, where they will try to find the black and the white in all the shades of grey.

Semenya keeps her counsel, her only public comments her pointed tweets. There’s a wildfire burning around her. The IAAF has been accused of discrimination, of racism, of propagating heteronormative standards of femininity, of trying to dictate what is and isn’t normal. Their policy has been compared to those used in apartheid South Africa, and said, by a member of the IAAF’s own disciplinary tribunal, to be “based on the same kind of ideology that has led to some of the worst injustices and atrocities in the history of our planet.”

The language is fierce. There are athletes and coaches who disagree, but few will speak publicly.

At the heart of the IAAF’s argument is the idea that women’s athletics is a “protected” category. Men and women don’t compete together because, if they did, there would be little point in women competing at all. As they say, “the IAAF divides competition into male and female classifications because male athletes have clear performance advantages in terms of size, strength and power” and these advantages “are due mainly to the fact that, starting from puberty, [men] produce 10-30 times more testosterone than women”.

Athletes with Differences of Sexual Development, like Semenya, have significantly higher testosterone levels than the women they’re competing against. According to the IAAF, the typical female range of circulating testosterone in serum is 0.12 to 1.79 nmol/L, while the typical male range is 7.7 to 29.4nmol/L. Females with DSD often have testosterone levels in the male range. And since the IAAF’s position is that testosterone is the key distinguishing factor between male and female performance, they believe athletes with DSD have an unfair advantage.

“Unfair” is the key word. Because on the one side, there’s an argument that high testosterone is just another natural advantage, like a basketballer’s reach or a swimmer’s large feet. And on the other, that basketball doesn’t divide players by height, and swimming doesn’t seek to protect swimmers with smaller feet. But because it has male and female categories, athletics does split competition between those with high and low testosterone, to protect the female athletes.

Here, then, testosterone has been conflated with sex, as if it were the only measure of difference between men and women. It’s not, of course, it’s just the one the IAAF has settled on, because other methods it could use, such as chromosome testing, are flawed. But so is this. Because while it might seem intuitively true that testosterone provides a performance advantage, the IAAF needs to prove it, too. And it has to show that the advantage is so great that it can justify a set of regulations many think are discriminatory. Which is where its case failed the last time it came before the Cas in 2015, and, it seems, where it will likely fail again if it comes back there now.

In 2015, Cas suspended the old set of regulations while the IAAF went away to gather new evidence. Instead the IAAF produced new regulations. The new set only apply to distances between 400m and one mile, where, the IAAF says, testosterone advantage is most pronounced. This is the very same range of events Semenya runs. Which means that, even though none of the IAAF literature mentions Semenya, the rules seem, in the words of the South African minister of sport, Tokozile Xasa, like “Caster Semenya Regulations”.

Last year the IAAF released a key study, which found that female athletes with higher levels of testosterone had an advantage in five events, the 400m, 400m hurdles, 800m, hammer throw, and pole vault. And that study, which underpins these new regulations, now looks deeply flawed. Andrew Gelman, Higgins professor of statistics at Columbia University, described the analysis as “such a mess that I can’t really figure out what data they are working with, what exactly they are doing, or the connection between some of their analyses and their scientific goals.”

Gelman is a rare voice in all this, one without any emotional investment, or even an in interest the sport. His only concern is the work. And he found it lacking. The IAAF says that this was only one paper, and that its case is bolstered by a body of confidential data. But still, after 15 years of study, its very best public evidence was debunked within weeks of its release. If after a decade of trying the IAAF still can’t prove it is right that DSD athletes shouldn’t be allowed to compete unless they lower their testosterone, then all these hard questions fade in to one easy, unavoidable, answer. The IAAF has got it wrong.
 
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It's clear beyond any doubt that higher levels of testosterone helps athletes. Semenya would not argue against lowering her levels if it wasn't true.

I would rather make female sports fair for >99.99% of women than give a clear edge to those born with some male organs.
 

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It's clear beyond any doubt that higher levels of testosterone helps athletes. Semenya would not argue against lowering her levels if it wasn't true.

I would rather make female sports fair for >99.99% of women than give a clear edge to those born with some male organs.
Yes. Of course. So does higher lung capacity, lower heart rate, higher degree of flexibility, etc.

Would you please read and try to understand things before you weigh in.
 
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Yes. Of course. So does higher lung capacity, lower heart rate, higher degree of flexibility, etc.

Would you please read and try to understand things before you weigh in.
I read the article but the title already claims that the ruling lacks scientific backing. It's true only in the sense that the ruling should cover all events.

Do you know what kind of drugs transgender people take? Those transitioning man to woman are taking testosterone-lowering drugs and those vice versa are taking testosterone. Testosterone is very essential hormone in defining and experiencing sex/gender.

PS. My argument never was that it's 100% fair to force Semenya take drugs to compete. I just rather make it fairer to the 99.99% than give a clear edge to the 0.01%.
 

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I think the way that Caster Semenya has been treated is absolutely disgraceful.

She's carried herself with as much dignity as possible given the circumstances (where they seem determined to strip it from her) and has done absolutely nothing wrong.

She's had the IAAF waging this war against her for the best part of a decade, simply for being born the way that she is.
 

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I read the article but the title already claims that the ruling lacks scientific backing. It's true only in the sense that the ruling should cover all events.

Do you know what kind of drugs transgender people take? Those transitioning man to woman are taking testosterone-lowering drugs and those vice versa are taking testosterone. Testosterone is very essential hormone in defining and experiencing sex/gender.

PS. My argument never was that it's 100% fair to force Semenya take drugs to compete. I just rather make it fairer to the 99.99% than give a clear edge to the 0.01%.
Perhaps that was poor titling by me. The facts are that 1/ the study carried out and the conclusions based on it are questionable and 2/ we don't exclude men with natural advantages. If it's fair to allow men whose biology puts them in a 0.01% among men then it's fair to do the same for women.

As for the science:

the study shows high levels of testosterone was affecting male and female athletes differently, depending on the event.

To critics of the IAAF decision, that outcome seems fishy. They say the French study shows association between testosterone and performance (in some events) rather than causation. They note that the natural advantage of men over women in these track events is much larger, from 10 to 12 percent.
“Take it out of the hands of the IAAF and give it to someone more honest, like the International Olympic Committee,” says Peter Sonksen, professor emeritus of endocrinology at the St. Thomas Hospital and King’s College, London, and lead author of an January editorial in the same British Medical Journal denouncing the French IAAF study.
. “It’s not that there’s no effect of testosterone on athletic performance, but it doesn’t provide the kind they complain about,” says Katrina Karkazis, a bioethicist and visiting fellow at the Yale University Global Health Justice Partnership.
 

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I think the way that Caster Semenya has been treated is absolutely disgraceful.

She's carried herself with as much dignity as possible given the circumstances (where they seem determined to strip it from her) and has done absolutely nothing wrong.

She's had the IAAF waging this war against her for the best part of a decade, simply for being born the way that she is.

No.
It's about countries who specifically search for athletes like Caster to get victories. Caster has an unfair advantage (and at least few others - the number of them is getting higher and higher, no wonder why) over other women.
 

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I think the issue here is that while society may generally benefit from its function to put men and women on a binary, sex really is more of a spectrum based on a variety of factors, with just a lot less people in the middle.


So unless there is a culturally recognized, accepted, and distinct enough third gender or another way of organizing athletes, this will be a recurring issue.
 

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Wait, there are things called "men" and "women"? I'm shocked! Aren't those just supposed to be social constructs, biological sex doesn't exist and it's all just one biiiig ol' spectrum and we can choose to be what we like whenever we like it?

Now really, the IAAF ruling is indeed silly in that it tries to be a Solomonic solution of some kind instead of doing what's right, and that's banning Caster Semenya from competition. She's not a biological woman and professional sport is the one area of life where biological sex DOES matter. That's why men and women don't compete against each other. And if you're in favour of men and women competing separately, it's only logical not to have Caster Semenya compete against other women. Because, as I said, she's biologically not a woman.

But of course there's going to be an outrage over this and I fully expect this ruling to be revoked soon enough. And I can't wait for the day an elite male athlete declares that he considers himself to be a woman and demands to compete against women, just for the piss of it. That day can't be too far away, and it's going to be so much fun.
 

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No.
It's about countries who specifically search for athletes like Caster to get victories. Caster has an unfair advantage (and at least few others - the number of them is getting higher and higher, no wonder why) over other women.
I understand the point you made above, but your other comments (which I see have since been removed from your post) were incredibly ignorant and hurtful. Please, people, take some time to educate yourself about the term "intersex" and the complex reality that comes with it.

The fact is, around 1 in 2000 folks are born with sex characteristics which don't fall exclusively into the binary categories of male or female. There are all sorts of sub-categories to classify intersex individuals, and it can range from having little to no visible impact on their daily lives, to presenting itself visibly and causing them to be judged ignorantly or unfairly.

As @pov has mentioned above, elite male athletes are allowed to benefit from biological advantages which are naturally occurring, and put them in an elite bracket (such as Michael Phelps' huge feet and uber-flexible ankles). Whereas, Caster is being treated like some sort of cheat, simply for trying to take part in sport exactly as she is.

The fact that she is so unfairly maligned is, I repeat, a disgrace.
 

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Wait, there are things called "men" and "women"? I'm shocked! Aren't those just supposed to be social constructs, biological sex doesn't exist and it's all just one biiiig ol' spectrum and we can choose to be what we like whenever we like it?

Now really, the IAAF ruling is indeed silly in that it tries to be a Solomonic solution of some kind instead of doing what's right, and that's banning Caster Semenya from competition. She's not a biological woman and professional sport is the one area of life where biological sex DOES matter. That's why men and women don't compete against each other. And if you're in favour of men and women competing separately, it's only logical not to have Caster Semenya compete against other women. Because, as I said, she's biologically not a woman.

But of course there's going to be an outrage over this and I fully expect this ruling to be revoked soon enough. And I can't wait for the day an elite male athlete declares that he considers himself to be a woman and demands to compete against women, just for the piss of it. That day can't be too far away, and it's going to be so much fun.
i think an elite male athlete doing that might not happen any time soon, at least in non-team sports. it takes too much sacrifice and effort to train seriously that it's not really advantageous to make a mockery of sport.

i think not allowing caster to compete in women's sports might be fair if they make some concrete and science-based delineation of the sex binary (which I don't know enough about to be honest), but then IAAF should have distinct categories of competition for those who are left out, and the delineation shouldn't be made specifically just to leave out caster of women's sports.

also a testosterone level bar would be a bad precedent (if even testosterone correlates with athletic performance). IE... one of the IAAF laws used to be to keep the testosterone under 10 nm/liter. Then the goal becomes to take supplements (for both girls who are lower and girls who are higher) to get just around 9.9. Isn't that the opposite of what IAAF wants?

I like Caster's attitude towards this. She just tells them to f*** off basically lol.
 

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Something had to be done. IAAF has finally decided to make a move rather than look the other way. I don't care what Semenya defenders say, I wanted IAAF to take action and they finally did (again).
 

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I understand the point you made above, but your other comments (which I see have since been removed from your post) were incredibly ignorant and hurtful. Please, people, take some time to educate yourself about the term "intersex" and the complex reality that comes with it.

The fact is, around 1 in 2000 folks are born with sex characteristics which don't fall exclusively into the binary categories of male or female. There are all sorts of sub-categories to classify intersex individuals, and it can range from having little to no visible impact on their daily lives, to presenting itself visibly and causing them to be judged ignorantly or unfairly.

As @pov has mentioned above, elite male athletes are allowed to benefit from biological advantages which are naturally occurring, and put them in an elite bracket (such as Michael Phelps' huge feet and uber-flexible ankles). Whereas, Caster is being treated like some sort of cheat, simply for trying to take part in sport exactly as she is.

The fact that she is so unfairly maligned is, I repeat, a disgrace.
For me it's not the same as having big feet or being talented thanks to your genetics as your head-start though. I do wonder what would be the reaction if Caster broke Jarmila Kratochvilova's record (that is by all acounts steroid triggered). For me she clearly restrained herself from running even faster times because it would rise suspicions even more. Her body is full of testosterone that other girls would not be allowed to take even if they wanted.
 

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It's clear beyond any doubt that higher levels of testosterone helps athletes. Semenya would not argue against lowering her levels if it wasn't true.
Maybe Ethiopian long distance runner's should also decrease their levels of lung capacity, it's not fair to other people born in countries with lower sea elevation levels.
 

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Maybe Ethiopian long distance runner's should also decrease their levels of lung capacity, it's not fair to other people born in countries with lower sea elevation levels.
Why? Their lungs are not a male organ that produces male hormone that is listed as forbidden performance enhancing drug.
 

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also a testosterone level bar would be a bad precedent (if even testosterone correlates with athletic performance). IE... one of the IAAF laws used to be to keep the testosterone under 10 nm/liter. Then the goal becomes to take supplements (for both girls who are lower and girls who are higher) to get just around 9.9. Isn't that the opposite of what IAAF wants?
.
That's not how it works. The anti-doping system will detect such hormonal manipulation. Those limits would only apply to intersex and transwomen.
 

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Two transgender teen sprinters come first AND second in the girl's state championship

Students and parents demand a rule change after trans teen wins the girl's state championship | Daily Mail Online

Terry Miller, who was born a male but identifies as a female, came in first place twice during the June 4 CIAC State Open track and field competition. During the 100-meter dash, Miller smoked her competition finishing the race in just 11.72 seconds. She also killed it in the 200-meter dash finishing in 24.17 seconds.

The Bulkeley High School teen, who competed on the boys' team during the winter indoor track season, set new state records last Monday in both races, the CT Post reports.

'Sports are set up for fairness,' she said. 'Biologically male and female are different, adding that 'the great majority is being sacrificed for the minority'.

'The way the law is written, Terry Miller is eligible to compete,' he said. 'I think a lot of people, myself included, have a problem with … a biological male competing. When they put the state law in effect, my interpretation is it wasn't made for high school sports. I think it was meant for all people — whether transgender, bisexual, gay — are treated fairly. I totally agree with that, but with sports it's not a level playing field.'
 

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What would be interesting would be a separation of biology but also an understanding.

I think a possible solution is to treat trans as separate category; while not completely fair there is some degree of culturally-accepted fairness possibly? Let me think it through... I don't know if it would really be fair to have trans people compete with men either because even though their birth sex assignment is male, they are still biologically different, especially after transition. I mean in reality sports are never really fair to begin with on the basis of biology. Using sex as a separator is just a generally socially accepted way of separating people, something that most people accept as a binary, something that is kind of mostly based on science but obviously there are outliers.

I think this is also where discussion of equality gets a little messy too, and because the concept of equality in the minds of human beings is not really clearly defined. Even though people want to treat men and women with equality, we still permit and celebrate a separation of sexes in sports. In general, men's averages are higher then female averages, and in almost all sports, men's records and elites are better than women's records and elites. Based on this, it seems more people would have a problem with a trans female competing in female sports than a trans male competing in male sports. I know there are also some rare situations in which a female wants to compete on the boys team, and while this is not universally allowed/accepted, people don't really see it as unfair.

Some high school athlete in an article about the high school wrestling trans male competing in female wrestling said that she felt they should be allowed to change their gender but wait until after high school or quit the sport altogether. My suggestion is maybe rather than quitting the sport altogether, create a new competition? Or maybe society just needs to come to an understanding that this is messy and just let people compete in whatever gender the contestant feels they are connected to (maybe it needs to get medically/psychologically verified though) and accept the "unfair" ramifications, even though some people are already born with much more dramatic biological differences to begin with.

Even though women have always competed in sports with men, the notion of separate women sports is also long in history. Women's sports and adaptive sports exist in part because on average, an elite woman and an elite adaptive performs worse than an elite male. Putting trans in adaptive sports wouldn't make sense, and putting all trans and intersex in their own collective category would not be fair to transmen/women who can compete on the same level of some elite females/males, just as Oscar Pistorious was allowed to compete with non-adaptive men. Also while it is accepted to put women in a different sport than men, it is not accepted for other biologically-related differences.

I don't really know where I was going with the last paragraph but basically there is no clear cut answer that really is fair to everyone. The main reason this is such an issue is putting those who were sex assigned male or intersex into female competitions and this is seen as unfair to those who have felt and been identified as biological women since birth. However, what these arguments also ignore are biological differences between women and how it is also basically accepted inequality to put women in a different category than men. Perhaps this is why, according to the third place finisher in the article, she just wants to focus on the clock - "'To be honest, I think it's great they get a chance to compete and as long as they're happy, I guess, there's not that much I can do,' she said. 'The rules are the rules. The only competition is the clock. You can only run as fast as you can.' "

So IMO, having trans as a separate category would only work if trans wanted that. If they didn't, oh well. It's not fair to them to not participate, but they should follow the same hormone rules and other rules as men and women to keep it fair as much as possible within those sports. The rules can always change, but the rules should not be changed to specifically exclude or discriminate against trans individuals, only those who try to compete unfairly. People also need to realize that sports are not fair to begin with and maybe they will care less. :)
 
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