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The discrimination faced by Caster Semenya today is another example of the intense ignorance faced by women athletes who have differences in their sex traits. Intersex women are women. Trans women are women. ALL women's bodies are different. #thread theguardian.com/sport/2019/may…
Caster Semenya is a record-making South African runner. She was thrown into the spotlight for having higher than average natural testosterone levels, and traits that some critiqued as being not 'feminine' enough, as if there is one way to look like and be a woman.
Caster has never used the word 'intersex' to describe herself, and her medical information was leaked because of the scale of her case. We want to acknowledge Caster's violated privacy, while we express outrage over the discrimination her case represents.
The court ruled that if someone's body naturally makes 'too much' testosterone, they must medically alter themselves to compete in women's categories. This is an incredible violation, and is based on the flawed idea that T is the one central thing that creates physical strength.
Just a few years ago, Court of Arbitration for Sport, the highest authority on this matter, cited that "the evidence that high testosterone creates performance advantage was too weak to warrant discriminating against women with high levels of the hormone." theguardian.com/commentisfree/…
.@Karkazis's work is about myths surrounding testosterone and sex separation. "The science is clear: there is no single physiological or biological marker that allows for the simple categorization of people as male or female." theguardian.com/commentisfree/…
Historically we've run with 'sex' as the way to separate competition categories and other facets of public life. We've *always* run into problems because there are so many nuances within what 'sex' can mean. It's not a neatly binary or predictable method. nytimes.com/2018/10/25/opi…
If someone's body naturally produces a different hormonal environment, that fact of their body is no different than their height, weight, etc. All human traits exist on spectrums. If someone's natural body is suited to sport, their gifts should be celebrated. That's competition.
LGBTQIA+ progressives fight to emphasize that "woman" is a category that is about self determination, not anatomy. We run into problems across the board when we try to link this category to universal anatomical traits.
If we set the standard that womanhood=bodily in sports, what does that do for progress on intersex and trans rights in other areas of life?
The CAS requested 2 years to gather data and respond to cases like Caster's. And here we are now, with this decision. Systematic quests to find a 'true' marker of femininity have harmed so many, and this history goes way back, both in sports testing and beyond.
A bodily definition of femininity is what causes the humiliation of women athletes, whether they are intersex or not. This is what causes medical violence against intersex people. This is what causes the violence anyone who doesn't meet sex and gender norms faces in daily life.
There's no way to avoid the racism historically embedded in policies like sport sex testing. All policies aimed at finding a 'true' marker of womanhood are based on European doctors' ideals of femininity, which have always been race-based, w white women being the gold standard.
Panic over intersex bodies in earlier centuries was linked to panic that if people existed 'between sexes,' or changed sex traits, people could also change their racial traits. Medicine and biology have always been driven by social bias.
This is the problem w dividing competitive categories by assuming that there are anatomical, universal markers of sex. Issues regarding trans & intersex women athletes having advantages compared to cisgender, non-intersex women have been debunked. We're left with social bias.
Trans and intersex women are not just saying they 'identify' as women, they ARE women, in psychological, physical, and biological ways. There are many ways, across all those dimensions, to be a woman. @chasestrangio explains more in a thread yesterday:
Cisgender women athletes, now is the time to speak up against this decision. Trans and intersex women deserve better. Policing of women's bodies only hurts everyone in the end.
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