May 1, 2019

"The Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport addressed a complicated, highly charged question involving fair play, gender identity, biology and human rights... Since competition is divided into male and female categories, what is the most equitable way to decide who should be eligible to compete in women’s events?"

"Restrictions on permitted levels of naturally occurring testosterone are discriminatory, the court ruled Wednesday in a 2-to-1 decision. But, the panel added, such discrimination is a 'necessary, reasonable and proportionate means' of achieving track and field’s goal of preserving the integrity of women’s competition.... The [International Association of Athletics Federations] had argued that athletes classified with 'differences of sexual development' — particularly those who possess testes and natural testosterone levels in the male range — gain an unfair advantage in women’s events from 400 meters to the mile in terms of additional muscle mass, strength and oxygen-carrying capacity.... [Caster Semenya's] lawyers said in a statement that they might appeal Wednesday’s decision, arguing that 'her unique genetic gift should be celebrated, not regulated.' The I.A.A.F. accepts athletes with differences of sexual development as legally female. For competitive purposes, though, it effectively considers them biologically male. And now the federation has been given the go-ahead to put in place a rule requiring these athletes to medically limit their testosterone levels in certain women’s events that synthesize speed, power and endurance. This is necessary to provide a level playing field in races that can be won by a margin as small as a hundredth of a second, the I.A.A.F. contends. To do nothing, it has said, risks 'losing the next generation of female athletes.'"

From "Court Bars Women With High Testosterone From Some Track Races" (NYT).

Most women, including elite athletes, have natural testosterone levels of 0.12 to 1.79 nanomoles per liter, the I.A.A.F. said, while the normal male range after puberty is much higher, at 7.7 to 29.4 nanomoles per liter. No female athlete would have natural testosterone levels at five nanomoles per liter or higher without so-called differences in sex development or tumors, the I.A.A.F. has said.

Doriane Lambelet Coleman, a law professor at Duke and an elite 800-meter runner in the 1980s who served as an expert witness for the I.A.A.F., wrote in The New York Times in April 2018 that “advocates for intersex athletes like to say that sex doesn’t divide neatly.” She continued: “This may be true in gender studies departments, but at least for competitive sports purposes, they are simply wrong. Sex in this context is easy to define and the lines are cleanly drawn: You either have testes and testosterone in the male range or you don’t.... There is no characteristic that matters more than testes and testosterone.”...

Athletes transitioning from male to female must declare that their gender identity is female and cannot rescind that declaration for a minimum of four years for sporting purposes. The athletes must also suppress their testosterone level below 10 nanomoles per liter for a year before becoming eligible for the Winter or Summer Games. The ruling in the Semenya case, though, is expected to prompt the I.O.C. to recommend that all Olympic sports adopt the more restrictive cutoff of five nanomoles per liter.
This is a complicated problem. Keep the facts straight: Semenya's condition is inborn. She is not transgender. She did not transition. She wants to compete, in the women's division of sports, with her natural level of testosterone, and will need to use artificial means to suppress that testosterone to 5 nanomoles per liter, which is still much higher than what "[m]ost women, including elite athletes" have. Other athletes, who are "male to female" transgender must also suppress their testosterone to compete in the Olympics as women, and they've only had to get below 10 nanomoles. That's expected to change to 5, now that Semenya is required to get to 5.

I'm interested in this concept of "preserving the integrity of women’s competition," but what does that mean, exactly? It seems like: preserving the public's interest in the separate, easier division of sports that we created for women.

70 comments:

traditionalguy said...

Ergo: Transgender Sports must be equally funded. More fun for everyone.

Seeing Red said...

The Olympics is becoming entertaining. I suggest Men’s Women’s and Trans events.

Aahhh just feel the progress! Feminists should be delighted.

Can we kill Title IX now?

rhhardin said...

The sports are separated to give women the same odds of winning in women's sports as men have in men's sports.

Win-everything competitors ought to have a certain range of rarity, in other words.

Seeing Red said...

Can’t equally fund them, there’s not enough of them.

rhhardin said...

I was in track, cross country and fencing and won events of all distances now and then, but not every time. That's the usual sports experience. No championships, also the usual thing.

Nonapod said...

In the MMA word, there's a similar controversy over testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) in older fighters. Over the past few years the UFC has instituted an extremely rigorous anti-drug policy in order to clean up the sport. One of the many things they test for is elevated testosterone levels. But there's certain medical conditions (like head trauma) along with just geting older, that can lead to reduced testosterone to the point that there may be a legitimate use cases for TRT. But TRT can lead to elevated testosterone levels.

gilbar said...

Here's a Modest Proposal:
Since we, As A PEOPLE, are Agreed that Men and Women are the Same, IN EVERY WAY;
And Since we, AS A PEOPLE, are Agreed that Men and Women are Whoever they say they are...
Let's just have SPORTS!
And let the best man/woman/shemale/trannie/freak/weirdo/thing win!!!

After all! We All KNOW, that women
can do Anything a Man can do
can do it BETTER! And,
Can do it in heels!

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Muscle mass, strength, and oxygen-carrying capacity are social constructs!

BamaBadgOR said...

Time to ban sports segregated by sex unless females can agree on a physical basis upon which to segregate themselves?

gspencer said...

Not to be found in the old file drawer - a solution acceptable to everyone.

Rick said...

Semenya's condition is inborn. She is not transgender. She did not transition.

But she's being used by transgenders to establish rules which will allow them to compete against women. So the ruling for her circumstance must consider them as well.

Not Sure said...

Will M2F and F2M transfolk compete against each other, or will they have to switch categories as their relative testosterone levels cross each other?

Michael K said...

Pass the popcorn. Leftist autophagy,

chuck said...

Just open all the competitions to both sexes. That would bring some reality to a world raised on movies where slim girls beat up on big men.

n.n said...

Muscle mass, strength, and oxygen-carrying capacity are social constructs!

Nature is in denial of human perception. So, Nature must be forced into social compliance. Transgender is a spectrum of physical and mental attributes. The question then is what to do with the normal distribution of male and female sexes, masculine and feminine genders, respectively, right?

Achilles said...

Women are rebelling. They are noticing that the left is trying to destroy women’s sports.

The leftists just try to ruin anything that builds a common social fabric in society. Male and female athletes have been working on teams in parallel for decades. But the golden era of women’s sports is over.

And they will want women to blame men.

But real men aren’t the problem here and everyone knows it.

stevew said...

You beat me to it Michael K. The best part for me is watching the mental contortions folks are going through to justify this nonsense.

n.n said...

trans-

word-forming element meaning "across, beyond, through, on the other side of, to go beyond," from Latin trans (prep.) "across, over, beyond," perhaps originally present participle of a verb *trare-, meaning "to cross," from PIE *tra-, variant of root *tere- (2) "cross over, pass through, overcome." In chemical use indicating "a compound in which two characteristic groups are situated on opposite sides of an axis of a molecule" [Flood].


A state and/or process.

hawkeyedjb said...

"It seems like: preserving the public's interest in the separate, easier division of sports that we created for women."

To a large extent this is true. It's doubtful many would want to watch or participate in women's sports in which the winners always look like East German weight-lifters. The winners would be determined by who "identifies as" (meaning "pretends to be") female. So, a medium-skilled man who wants to win golf championships identifies as (pretends to be) a woman and wins pretty much everything. What would be the point? Watching a medium-skilled man win against highly-skilled women is neither interesting nor, in any way, a fair competition.

Birches said...

I'm guessing twenty years ago this woman would have no problem competing. But the transgender issue has made her genetic anomaly a problem because of all the M to F transgender people who would also argue they have a genetic anomaly.

Let her compete.

Nonapod said...

And using testosterone levels alone as a way to mitigate the advantages of male-to-female trans people wouldn't work either. It should be obvious that the physical differences between biological men and biological women are about much more than just testosterone levels. For example, in powerlifting, there's no amount of testosterone that a woman could take that would realistically put her on par with a male powerlifter.

Swede said...

Men and women are equal.

We hear it all the time.

It's stupid to have men's and women's sports.

They should be combined.

Because equal.

Bay Area Guy said...

"Since competition is divided into male and female categories, what is the most equitable way to decide who should be eligible to compete in women’s events?"

Hmmm. Let me think about that. How about men are eligible to compete in male events, and women are eligible to compete in women's events?

For close calls, say, like Rupaul or Caitlin Jenner, well, allow the women to compete in the male events, but not vice versa.

Birches said...

But do not allow anyone to piggy back off of her unique situation.

rehajm said...

Kinda more entertaining than the women's sports themselves.

lgv said...

There was no other conclusion to be had, unless the argument is for the eventual demise of male AND female competition. Once all medals were won by trans competitors, there would be zero interest in women's competition, from both men and women.

Now, make the women use the same size basketball.

Amadeus 48 said...

This should be easy. Have a division of the Olympics for men who think they are women and women who have testosterone at male levels. Call it the "Extra-Special Olympics". Problem solved.

Let the games begin!

Milo Minderbinder said...

No, it isn't complicated. Uterus or testes? My daughters and granddaughters, athletic competitors all, want to know if, like Russian Olympians of the 60s and 70s, they will have to take testosterone supplements to ascend to a level playing field.

Fernandinande said...

They let women compete in the Olympics?!? Did any of them win?

They should have an "open" (men's) category and, when necessary, do a genetic XX/XY chromosome test for people in the women's category, and if the chromosomes are wonky, as sometimes but rarely happens, they get to compete as a man; and drop all the drug and testosterone-level testing.

Professional lady said...

Are women being oppressed by the patriarchy or what? So men who think they are women for whatever reason get to ruin women's sports, invade women's privacy, etc. "Transwomen" compete against other "Transwomen" or men. Use the family locker room if you're not comfortable in the male locker room. This is coming from someone who has a "Transwoman" in the family. I love and accept that person, but his beliefs and feelings don't get to override the interests of biological women.

TreeJoe said...

I'm nearly 37, 3 kids, and in relatively good shape. In late 2018 due to symptoms of exhaustion that seemed inordinate and perpetual, I decided to get my hormones tested - I ordered my own labs, went to labcorp myself, and then reviewed the results with a Doc.

My testosterone was within normal range but was quite low for my age and fitness level. My Luteinizing Hormone - a pituitary hormone that tells the Testes to produce more Testosterone - was elevated beyond range. Basically my body was telling itself to produce more Test. but my body wasn't responding adequately.

For 5 months now I've been on testosterone replacement therapy. At current levels, I'm ~4x higher than where I was and I'm probably slightly above range for almost all natural male ranges. There are a few folks who have been found to have this level of Test. naturally.

My point behind sharing this is: I'm 5 months into the journey of experiencing the difference elevated Testosterone makes.

It's significant.

Decades ago competitive sports categories started to breakdown with the introduction of synthetic testosterone. We are nearing end-stage because even this approach to limit it to 5 nanomoles is flawed.

The next stage is to eliminate gender categorization all together and simply create tranches based upon testosterone levels averaged over a period of time.

By the same reasoning that 5 nanomoles is created, then a male athlete at 14 is fundamentally at a disadvantage compared to a male athlete at 27. How can that be allowed? More division must be created. It's like age groups - many competitions create ~5+ age groups. That'll happen here.

n.n said...

do a genetic XX/XY chromosome test for people in the women's category, and if the chromosomes are wonky, as sometimes but rarely happens, they get to compete as a man

That could work. Let the males compete against other males and neo-males. It would circumvent the Pro-Choice liberalization that has plagued human, scientific, social, and moral development. And reduce the collateral damage from social progress.

Fernandinande said...

For 5 months now I've been on testosterone replacement therapy.

They mixed a special testosterone cream for my woman, then after a couple months they discovered that they'd screwed up the t-level tests and switched her to vitamin D just about when her mustache was starting to look good.

born01930 said...

it used to be that you were a spoil sport if you took your balls and went home...

bagoh20 said...

We all know there is no solution to the unfairness of the universe, therefore we must simply ban competition. Just have ceremonies and give out trophies to everyone - lots and lots of trophies. That's all anybody really wants anyway.

OR, give out no trophies, no acknowledgment of any kind to winners, and then nobody would care. Stop the mediocrity shaming.

Impudent Warwick said...

I’m so old, I remember when we were told there was no slippery slope on the other side of gay marriage.

Although to be fair, it isn’t that gay marriage itself leads inevitably to any particular place; it’s that a culture that is willing to accept one thing that previously was beyond the pale is less resistant to the push for the next, and the next, and the next. When we’re surrounded (and outvoted) by pot-smoking transitioning polygamous socialists, we’ll look around and wonder how we got there.

Tommy Duncan said...

So are there actually only two genders which are properly named "estrogen" and "testosterone"?

How does this fit with Title IX? Are participation awards the answer?

Tommy Duncan said...

By the way, I searched on "Caster Semenya" and looked at the images. Wow.

Her wife seems nice...

mockturtle said...

Well, I can compete in the Special Olympics, if I identify as physically challenged, right? I'll put those poor paraplegics to shame! This whole thing has gotten out of hand. Once the camel's nose is under the tent, etc. Let's all go back to square one and start over.

etbass said...

Keep on. Keep on, Progs. It's working; everything is being ruined. You're winning. And it's because no one wants be called a racist or misogynist. Everything is equal. No winners, no losers. We are all the same. Competition? NO. Trophies? NO, unless everybody gets one. Exceptionalism? Absolutely NOT.

mockturtle said...

Didn't the Russians get banned from the games years ago for hormonal tampering? What is transgenderism if not hormonal tampering?

Otto said...

"This is a complicated problem". Complicated my arse. Synthetic aperture radars or the fast fourier transform is complicated. This is just white noise from Ann who thinks it is intelligent to explore the basement of humanity.

Freeman Hunt said...

"I'm interested in this concept of "preserving the integrity of women’s competition," but what does that mean, exactly? It seems like: preserving the public's interest in the separate, easier division of sports that we created for women."

Preserving them for the women who want to play them.

Yancey Ward said...

At the core of this, I think the conclusion is that that Semenya is female and shouldn't have to suppress her testosterone at all. However, this leads me to a question I have been unable to find a clear answer to- can she actually prove her testosterone level is natural? I know there are tests for bioidentical T, but when I look up the various forms of this, they are all just esters of the natural hormone, and the natural hormone as the free alcohol, can be injected directly, so how do they determine what is natural and what is not? How did Semenya prove her situation is entirely natural? Is the synthetic a different enantiomeric ratio to a degree that can reveal it in the tests?

Bay Area Guy said...

I've always wanted to join the women's rugby team at Bryn Mawr College. Lotta hotties there.

Hari said...

How is this any different from declaring that woman over 6 feet tall are banned from competing in women's sports?

Rick said...

Preserving them for the women who want to play them.

Why should we care to preserve this when men are allowed no protected spaces? If women want protected spaces they should be expected to support protected spaces for men also.

The Cracker Emcee Refulgent said...

Hey, I'm all for fantasy. But if you're going to construct one, I expect it to at least have a consistent internal logic. Just because you say that gender is fluid and self determined doesn't mean the person has physically changed. Sports are a physical endeavor. The loonies skipped a step and now it's coming back to bite them on the ass.

tim in vermont said...

It seems like: preserving the public's interest in the separate, easier division of sports that we created for women.

The obvious answer is to make them all compete with the men. OR we could just destroy women’s sports as we have known them and turn them into something that normal girls can only compete in at low levels. Kind of like the normally heighted men in basketball. 5-8? It’s high school and done for you! That’s what boys face.

The Drill SGT said...

The problem with debating about T levels in 20+ year olds is that the physical impacts of testosterone occur in the womb. They can't be undone. They impact the structure of the body, its shape, lungs, heart.

you can't undo any of that later...

tim in vermont said...

She’s the camel's nose under the tent for trans women. Hard cases make bad law, as they say. This is a hard case, but obviously the decision was based on the people clamoring at the gate, and not this woman.

tim in vermont said...

Remember when it used to be a joke to say “I’m a lesbian trapped in a man’s body!” then along comes Bruce Jenner and he says “Hold my beer!”

Darkisland said...

I can't find a link now but there is going to be (or recently was) a performance of Gershwin's Porgy and Bess in Vienna.

The Gershwin estate requires that all performances of Porgy and Bess have an all black cast.

The Vienna opera/promoter could not find enough blacks in Austria so hired non-blacks and had them sign affidavits that they identify as black.

A couple of other questions come to mind:

1) In the US at least, how is it legal to specify a particular color for actors?

2) Gershwin was a white Jew born of Russian immigrant parents. How is his writing a black opera not "Cultural appropriation"?

John Henry

John Holland said...

'I'm interested in this concept of "preserving the integrity of women’s competition," but what does that mean, exactly? It seems like: preserving the public's interest in the separate, easier division of sports that we created for women.'

This is a long response, tl;dr and all that. You have been warned.

Another way of looking at it might be something I came to by way of Jordan Peterson. His remarks were not specifically about women's sports, and my paraphrase may not be how he would put it, but it's something like this:

Human civilization is made up of overlapping hierarchies, for better and for worse. Sports are a specific kind of hierarchy, one of competence. Hierarchies of competence have been very beneficial to humans. However, all hierarchies, over time, can become corrupt, unfair, and tend eventually toward 'winner take all'.

One solution to this tendency that we've tried (especially in societies that emphasize personal liberty) is to simply make lots more new hierarchies of competence, to vastly increase the number of opportunities to participate, prosper and succeed in various fields. This makes for a better, and longer-lasting society.

So, each sport is made up of a series of hierarchies, not one single hierarchy. There are divisions by sex, weight class, age, experience and so forth. This maximizes the access to participate and succeed.

But no division is perfect; there are going to be rare edge cases that fall between the cracks of divisions. This is especially so at the very top of the hierarchy, where the drive to compete is most intense.

The Olympics is the very narrow, windy top of all sports hierarchies. The so-called 'intersex' athlete is one of those rare edge cases. How rare? There have been, what, a half-dozen cases in the 100+ years of the modern Olympics? We are talking about 1/10 of 1 percent of all humans who are born intersex, and maybe one out of 10,000 of those are good enough to make it all the way to the Olympics. One or two people in the current cohort of thousands of high-performance athletes.

Is it fair to deprive them of any spot in the Olympics, after years of training and competing? No. But it is fair to deprive a normal biological woman a spot in the Olympics to make room for the intersex? Because it is as if they've been born with a superpower. What do we do when Wonder Woman decides to compete in women's swimming? Or if Superman decided to compete in the men's decathlon? Such athletes have to agree to a handicap, as in a horse race, where the horse has to carry extra weights in the saddle to compensate for a super-light jockey. Thus the court has decided.

This is where the toxic stew of transgender politics can, and probably will, take a thoughtful result and turn it all into a giant dumpster fire. The case of Caster Semenya is completely different from the case of, say, transgender track and field winner Andraya Yearwood. But transgender activists have been very successful in promoting the notion that the two cases are identical. How successful? Look at some of the comments to this post. A lot of people do not distinguish between the two in their responses.

The goal of transgender activists is to, in essence, take over the hierarchy of women's sports for themselves and corrupt it to favor their preferred outcome. If a hierarchy becomes corrupt, people will abandon it. If the people are free, they will create a new hierarchy for themselves. If they are not, and the force of courts and governments is brought to bear to impose and maintain the corruption, then the corrupt hierarchy will collapse with no replacement.

So it's more than a matter of "preserving the public's interest" in an "easier competition". It's an issue of fundamental justice, and of maintaining a society that is perceived as fair by the largest number of people. Disenfranchising 50% of the population to place 0.1 percent over the rest is the reverse of justice.

The Cracker Emcee Refulgent said...

As they've done with Blacks, I would expect White women to start enforcing a policy of limited inclusion regarding trannies. You're welcome but only where I say you're welcome.

buwaya said...

" If they are not, and the force of courts and governments is brought to bear to impose and maintain the corruption, then the corrupt hierarchy will collapse with no replacement."

It will not collapse if the force of courts and governments forces the rest of society to continue funding the corrupt hierarchy. There are more and more cases of this, of well funded but hollow institutions.

Anonymous said...

A modest proposal: any biological male shall be allowed to compete as a female in any competition he wants, provided he can expertly fold a fitted sheet.

-greenlight

Richard Dolan said...

"Keep the facts straight."

Yes, by all means. But the post is mostly concerned with the kind of problem that always arises at the margins whenever a line is drawn dividing A from B. Here a biologically female athlete has naturally occurring but unusually high levels of testosterone. Whether to use testosterone levels as the line between athletes entitled to compete as women may be wise or not, but if that's the line problems like this will crop up. If testosterone levels are ignored, very different problems (highlighted recently by press accounts of a transgendered person winning all the events in a women's weightlifting competition) also occur. There is no question that higher levels of testosterone correlate with greater muscle strength and endurance. One set of problems generate unfair results for a small set of competitors; the other arguably creates a problem that renders untenable the basis for separate women's sports competitions. Unless you can square the circle, some choice between the two will have to be made. So choose.

AA's suggestion that "preserving the integrity of women’s competition," seems to mean "preserving the public's interest in the separate, easier division of sports that we created for women," strikes me as both wrong and a bit cynical. Given that the "public" has no interest whatever in many, many athletic competitions (think of all the high school and college matches played every day that get no notice), preserving the integrity of women's competition seems more likely to be rooted in a desire to treat the competitors fairly. That's where the cliche about a 'level playing field' comes from, to say nothing of most metaphors about the importance of fairness and equal treatment.

Yancey Ward said...

John Holland's comment is the only one on this thread worth reading.

roesch/voltaire said...

Perhaps there needs to be new category of competition for intersex or DSD folks?

Michael K said...

However, all hierarchies, over time, can become corrupt, unfair, and tend eventually toward 'winner take all'.

“Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.”

Eric Hoffer,

Bob said...

Far too much hand-wringing over what is a very, very tiny minority.

Rosalyn C. said...

Transgender activists don't concern themselves with the problem of fairness in sport competitions with cis women -- a bit of irony considering that transwomen claim to feel they have always been women. "So what. Get out of my way." seems to be the attitude of transwomen athletes towards their sisters.

Obviously there's no problem with transmen competing against cis men -- no advantage for biologically born female athletes who have transitioned to male, regardless of the hormone treatments they receive to alter external appearance or their T levels. Clearly male advantage goes beyond testosterone levels. If transmen competing against cis men were winning championships we'd be hearing about that too. Would male athletes tolerate this? Doubtful. And there probably would be no snide comments about the public's interest in inferior mens' sports.

The Olympic Committee has been concerned for the last few years with increasing the number of female athletes to achieve parity with male athletes, regardless if that includes transwomen who have physical advantages. Maybe the Olympics was hoping the controversy and the public interest would be good for business? No matter the cost to professional women athletes? I call that foul.

JaimeRoberto said...

The gym where my daughter trains has a male coach who competed in college. The difference in power between the girls and him is huge. Luckily for the girls, the beam probably will prevent the dudes from trying to compete against the women. You don't want to fall wrong on that.

Matt said...

Ever notice how it never goes the other way - biological women trying to break into male sports? Its almost like they'd be at a disadvantage or something...

Fritz said...

The gym where my daughter trains has a male coach who competed in college. The difference in power between the girls and him is huge. Luckily for the girls, the beam probably will prevent the dudes from trying to compete against the women. You don't want to fall wrong on that.

There probably won't be a rush of "transwomen" to try the uneven parallel bars either.

exiledonmainstreet, green-eyed devil said...

Matt said...
Ever notice how it never goes the other way - biological women trying to break into male sports? Its almost like they'd be at a disadvantage or something...

5/1/19, 3:35 PM

Well, except for the woman who tried out to be a NLF kicker. It did not go well...Grrl power was not much help, I'm afraid.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=2&v=fDVxrpTreWA

Unknown said...

Only some events? I cannot think of an olympic event where testosterone and a male body would not be helpful except for those where females have an actual advantage like some gymnastics, diving, and equestrian. Sports require strength--duh

Unknown said...

The first time I saw Caster Semenya racing I knew she had a genetic anomaly (high T). It is so obvious. When the controversy came up I knew who it was about before seeing her name in the news item.
To be fair, however, I think the test should strictly be about XY vs XX.

Ken B said...

Not so complicated Althouse. The complications arise solely from the attempt to redefine the words man and woman. The testosterone tests are downstream of that, an attempt to deal with the consequences of that. Remove that and it’s no longer so complicated.