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Caster Semenya

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#1 cara

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Posted 16 August 2016 - 12:30 PM

So I'm wondering what everybody thinks about this:
 
http://www.dailymail...cal-debate.html

 

'Should Caster Semanya be allowed to compete as a woman? Tipped for 800m gold, she has no ovaries, nearly as much testosterone as a man and has sparked a huge ethical debate'
 
So basically the title says it all. She is receiving tons of scrutiny and having the most intimate and private aspects of her body debated.
 
Personally, I find it disgusting how she was all but forced to take hormones. As it says, her male counterparts who have high levels of testosterone do NOT need to undergo hormone treatments. Why should she be treated differently?
 
I think this touches on a much deeper subject. Much like people wanting transgenders to use separate bathrooms, this type of discrimination is appalling to me. She was born this way, with this level of hormones. In my eyes, it's no different than any of the physical advantages other athletes are born with that make them great at their sport.
 
What do you think? 
 
I know this is a sensitive subject, so please be respectful of other members. No rudeness or name calling of any kind.



#2 HiMyNameIsNick

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Posted 16 August 2016 - 12:34 PM

I'm ok with trans rights but I don't think that she should be allowed to compete as woman. You can clearly see a huge muscular difference, that's a natural advantage and it's unfair.



#3 cara

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Posted 16 August 2016 - 12:40 PM

I'm ok with trans rights but I don't think that she should be allowed to compete as woman. You can clearly see a huge muscular difference, that's a natural advantage and it's unfair.


But how come hormone 'caps' are only forced onto the women athletes? Because there is a certain acceptable level of testosterone a woman can have but not a man?

#4 Waser Lave

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Posted 16 August 2016 - 12:47 PM

This is one subject where I'm really torn. Obviously she's done nothing wrong and she can't help how she was born but at the same time her physiology does give her a big advantage over her competitors. I don't think it's really comparable with male athletes having different testosterone levels because any difference there is going to be much less pronounced and I suspect there's probably an element of diminishing returns with testosterone and you approach a point where the side effects become more of a disadvantage than an advantage (though I'm not a doctor or a sports scientist and I don't have a PhD so I'm not an expert on it). I think eventually we might reach a point where we end up having handicap systems like in golf to even the playing field and reduce the importance of physiological advantage on athletic performance, and that might not be a bad thing.



#5 cara

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Posted 16 August 2016 - 12:52 PM

This is one subject where I'm really torn. Obviously she's done nothing wrong and she can't help how she was born but at the same time her physiology does give her a big advantage over her competitors. I don't think it's really comparable with male athletes having different testosterone levels because any difference there is going to be much less pronounced and I suspect there's probably an element of diminishing returns with testosterone and you approach a point where the side effects become more of a disadvantage than an advantage (though I'm not a doctor or a sports scientist and I don't have a PhD so I'm not an expert on it). I think eventually we might reach a point where we end up having handicap systems like in golf to even the playing field and reduce the importance of physiological advantage on athletic performance, and that might not be a bad thing.

 

I think I struggle most with the concept of how we define unfair physical advantages. Obviously someone with longer legs will be naturally better at running than I am. Yet there are no limits to leg size, or any other type of physical attribute other than hormones. And mostly the monitoring of hormones comes from the need to ensure steroids are not being used. Because that would be unfair. But, the level of hormones you are born with is the same in my eyes as any other type of physical advantage you are born with. I don't understand how the two are not comparable.



#6 Waser Lave

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Posted 16 August 2016 - 01:01 PM

I think I struggle most with the concept of how we define unfair physical advantages. Obviously someone with longer legs will be naturally better at running than I am. Yet there are no limits to leg size, or any other type of physical attribute other than hormones. And mostly the monitoring of hormones comes from the need to ensure steroids are not being used. Because that would be unfair. But, the level of hormones you are born with is the same in my eyes as any other type of physical advantage you are born with. I don't understand how the two are not comparable.

 

Surely if you go down that path then you eventually reach the point where you need to consider doing away with gender separation in sports entirely?



#7 sprockets

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Posted 16 August 2016 - 01:04 PM

I think I struggle most with the concept of how we define unfair physical advantages. Obviously someone with longer legs will be naturally better at running than I am. Yet there are no limits to leg size, or any other type of physical attribute other than hormones. And mostly the monitoring of hormones comes from the need to ensure steroids are not being used. Because that would be unfair. But, the level of hormones you are born with is the same in my eyes as any other type of physical advantage you are born with. I don't understand how the two are not comparable.

 

Would it be better if they had a third category for the Olympics to compete with? Male, Intersex and Female? 

 

But if she does compete, the fear is that it opens the doors for scores of intersex athletes to dominate female sport.
 
It just seems like if intersex are able to compete as females that they would totally beat out any female and the female category becomes to intersex category 


#8 cara

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Posted 16 August 2016 - 01:09 PM

Surely if you go down that path then you eventually reach the point where you need to consider doing away with gender separation in sports entirely?

 

The alternative is picking and choosing which physical attributes equate male and female? And whoever doesn't fit into those categories has to undergo hormone treatments or is disqualified?

 

 

Would it be better if they had a third category for the Olympics to compete with? Male, Intersex and Female? 

 
It just seems like if intersex are able to compete as females that they would totally beat out any female and the female category becomes to intersex category 

 

 

So, I see no issue with that other than the fact that I would assume it would have a lot less of a fan base than the already established male/female categories. Already the male sports have a lot more revenue than the female ones (for whatever reason, I'm not sure). But for the sake of fairness, that would be a good idea.

 

As well, no one is offering that at the moment. Her choice was hormone treatments or being disqualified. I understand now she is not doing the treatments as that requirement has been waived, but she is being scrutinized for it without an alternative.



#9 Waser Lave

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Posted 16 August 2016 - 01:23 PM

The alternative is picking and choosing which physical attributes equate male and female? And whoever doesn't fit into those categories has to undergo hormone treatments or is disqualified?

 

But if we go for genderless sport then women and intersex people aren't likely to beat men in the vast majority of events so what would be the point of them participating? Sport would be completely dominated by male competitors undoing all of the progress which we've made in the last few decades... We know now that biological sex isn't binary and if we want to keep a binary distinction in sport to separate genders or even if we add intersex in there too we'd still need to find where to draw the lines to categorise the competitors and currently there isn't really a better way of doing that than testosterone level.



#10 cara

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Posted 16 August 2016 - 01:33 PM

But if we go for genderless sport then women and intersex people aren't likely to beat men in the vast majority of events so what would be the point of them participating? Sport would be completely dominated by male competitors undoing all of the progress which we've made in the last few decades... We know now that biological sex isn't binary and if we want to keep a binary distinction in sport to separate genders or even if we add intersex in there too we'd still need to find where to draw the lines to categorise the competitors and currently there isn't really a better way of doing that than testosterone level.

 

I agree with what you're saying and I don't think that we should abolish the gender separation. I just don't like the alternative now. I agree with what Caster is saying in the sense that she was born this way and asking her to undergo medical procedures or be disqualified isn't acceptable to me. 

 

I'm not knowledgeable in sports. I would have to consider for a long time what better alternatives are to what they did to her. But, I'm sure there are better routes to go than the one being practiced now.



#11 sprockets

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Posted 16 August 2016 - 02:05 PM

So, I see no issue with that other than the fact that I would assume it would have a lot less of a fan base than the already established male/female categories. Already the male sports have a lot more revenue than the female ones (for whatever reason, I'm not sure). But for the sake of fairness, that would be a good idea.

 
I would be ok with this as well but you bring up a good point. Why do male sports bring in more revenue than female ones? Is it because males tend to be more into sports in general and are thus a larger consumer for them? If that's the case, why do men prefer to watch other men compete instead of females? Is it because they have some benchmark to compare themselves against since they are one? 
 
E.x. I'm a male watching other males compete in powerlifting, I then can compare myself against other males of size and age and know how much the elite can lift.
 
So many questions and I bet @DonValentino would be able to provide some more insight into this topic. 
 

As well, no one is offering that at the moment. Her choice was hormone treatments or being disqualified. I understand now she is not doing the treatments as that requirement has been waived, but she is being scrutinized for it without an alternative.

 
I suppose one way to look at it is how these athletes compete during sporting events outside of the Olympics and thus how they're regulated. Although I'd imagine these other organizations would look to see how the Olympics set the standard since it's on the world stage


Edited by DonJonathan, 16 August 2016 - 02:06 PM.


#12 Kaddict

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Posted 16 August 2016 - 03:04 PM

But how come hormone 'caps' are only forced onto the women athletes? Because there is a certain acceptable level of testosterone a woman can have but not a man?

I think there are hormone caps on men too. Basing this solely on baseball, MLB players can get suspended for getting testosterone shots, even if it may be medically indicated (Like, they have hypogonadism and low testosterone). They do this because if you let some people get a medical pass, what is stopping someone from stretching the truth to get a medical pass, all the way down until everyone gets one.

In this situation, I agree with you guys. This situation sucks. It wasn't her fault what happened, but at the same time, to provide fairness to her, we would be allowing unfairness to all the other female athletes. I have always disagreed with people who are M2F transgender to participate against females, because the transgender will usually win. It is just the biology of the body. But I admit I am a hypocrite bc I would be totally ok if a F2M participated with the men (I am just certain he wouldn't qualify, because again, genetics).



#13 Amethyst

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Posted 16 August 2016 - 03:04 PM

The fact that she's "trans" would likely make people say, well. No. But that's not the case in this topic. She's an intersex individual. Meaning, you can't categorize her based on what she was "born as" because the fact of the matter is, she's not transgender. (I believe as a transgender woman she should be allowed to be in the female category if she were a trans woman, before anyone jumps down my throat on that one.)

 

She should be allowed to compete, she has a genetic deformity as the article put it, that doesn't make her less female if that's the way she wants to go with her gender identity. Fact of the matter is, she has both. You can't really place her in either category if you want to take it from that perspective. It isn't fair to exclude her from the women's category simply because she produces testosterone. That isn't what makes her male. 

 

While she may have an advantage due to it, I don't think she should be thrown into the male category here. 



#14 Kaddict

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Posted 16 August 2016 - 03:29 PM

The fact that she's "trans" would likely make people say, well. No. But that's not the case in this topic. She's an intersex individual. Meaning, you can't categorize her based on what she was "born as" because the fact of the matter is, she's not transgender. (I believe as a transgender woman she should be allowed to be in the female category if she were a trans woman, before anyone jumps down my throat on that one.)

 

She should be allowed to compete, she has a genetic deformity as the article put it, that doesn't make her less female if that's the way she wants to go with her gender identity. Fact of the matter is, she has both. You can't really place her in either category if you want to take it from that perspective. It isn't fair to exclude her from the women's category simply because she produces testosterone. That isn't what makes her male. 

 

While she may have an advantage due to it, I don't think she should be thrown into the male category here. 

I haven't researched this person, but in the article it says she has no ovaries and internal testes. Is it a mullerian problem? What are her chromosomes? And I think the olympic committee does have rules saying that x-level hormone in women can't compete--but I guess that is currently not enforced?

But am I the only one worried that she is going to get testicular cancer if she has undescended testes? They really need to be taken out if they already haven't been. That is a huge-huge-huge cancer risk.



#15 cara

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Posted 16 August 2016 - 03:35 PM

 
I would be ok with this as well but you bring up a good point. Why do male sports bring in more revenue than female ones? Is it because males tend to be more into sports in general and are thus a larger consumer for them? If that's the case, why do men prefer to watch other men compete instead of females? Is it because they have some benchmark to compare themselves against since they are one? 
 
E.x. I'm a male watching other males compete in powerlifting, I then can compare myself against other males of size and age and know how much the elite can lift.
 
So many questions and I bet @DonValentino would be able to provide some more insight into this topic. 
 

 
I suppose one way to look at it is how these athletes compete during sporting events outside of the Olympics and thus how they're regulated. Although I'd imagine these other organizations would look to see how the Olympics set the standard since it's on the world stage

 

I actually have no idea why they gross so much more than women's sports .. I'm sure there are a lot of speculations but I would honestly imagine that there are more men that watch sports and like you said, they're into watching other men. I'm not too sure why. It reminds me of when I read that a movie (I think it was The Avengers?) tried to write in a female antagonist and they were shot down because it would lose many male viewers and consumers (toys, posters, etc). I'm not too sure why on either of those things, though. It can be like you said, people like to compare. I feel guilty of being more into female characters than male ones, though not for competitive reasons.

 

The Olympics do have set standards, they refer to them in that article .. but how they come up with them, I'm none too sure ...

 

I think there are hormone caps on men too. Basing this solely on baseball, MLB players can get suspended for getting testosterone shots, even if it may be medically indicated (Like, they have hypogonadism and low testosterone). They do this because if you let some people get a medical pass, what is stopping someone from stretching the truth to get a medical pass, all the way down until everyone gets one.

In this situation, I agree with you guys. This situation sucks. It wasn't her fault what happened, but at the same time, to provide fairness to her, we would be allowing unfairness to all the other female athletes. I have always disagreed with people who are M2F transgender to participate against females, because the transgender will usually win. It is just the biology of the body. But I admit I am a hypocrite bc I would be totally ok if a F2M participated with the men (I am just certain he wouldn't qualify, because again, genetics).

 

I don't think there is a hormone cap on men, at least those in the same sport she's in. Just based off that article making reference to that. So I'm not familiar with hypogonadism (thanks for throwing your fancy medical terms at me and making me google stuff :p ) but yeah, I suppose that's also a thinker. So that's basically the opposite of the medical issue she has? They have a deficient amount of hormones? See, now it gets even more conflicting for me because I feel as though these people should be allowed to have hormone injections to increase to a level where they can compete and are not held back by their disability. But now I'm conflicting myself, aren't it? HmmmmmmmmmmmmmMmm gotta put my thinking cap on now ... Because if they cap it, then they should be able to inject without having an 'unfair' advantage. But if they don't cap, like this article says, then that's a different story ..

 

It isn't fair to exclude her from the women's category simply because she produces testosterone. That isn't what makes her male. 

 

So this is basically exactly how I feel. But I'm a lot less knowledge than you are. I just know that it would be extremely wrong for them to force her into the male category when she not only does not identify as one, but I don't even think she physically qualifies as one. I also hate the idea of making her take hormone treatments or be disqualified. I can't even imagine how that would effect my mood, body and personality when it's not something I truly want to do.



#16 ortin

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Posted 16 August 2016 - 05:07 PM

 

Would it be better if they had a third category for the Olympics to compete with? Male, Intersex and Female? 

 

It just seems like if intersex are able to compete as females that they would totally beat out any female and the female category becomes to intersex category 

Eh... I like the concept but there aren't exactly many intersex people in the world compared to males and females, and even less intersex athletes. Is it significant enough to warrant a overhaul of how traditional sports dichotomy work?



#17 Jess

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Posted 17 August 2016 - 08:51 AM

Eh... I like the concept but there aren't exactly many intersex people in the world compared to males and females, and even less intersex athletes. Is it significant enough to warrant a overhaul of how traditional sports dichotomy work?

I think if we continue to have the widespread hormone issues we're having currently, having the western world be mostly intersex or a population equivalent to male/female isn't more than a few generations away.

#18 cara

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Posted 17 August 2016 - 09:18 AM

Eh... I like the concept but there aren't exactly many intersex people in the world compared to males and females, and even less intersex athletes. Is it significant enough to warrant a overhaul of how traditional sports dichotomy work?

 

So because it doesn't apply to the masses it's too bad so sad for the people who would benefit from it?



#19 Waser Lave

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Posted 17 August 2016 - 11:03 AM

So because it doesn't apply to the masses it's too bad so sad for the people who would benefit from it?

 

How many people in the world would be classed as intersex? How many of those people are interested in sport? How many of those people want to dedicate their lives to sport full time? You're not left with a lot of potential competitors after you whittle them down...and that's before you get to considering who would actually want to watch it or fund it. A laudable but impractical aim I reckon.



#20 cara

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Posted 17 August 2016 - 11:53 AM

How many people in the world would be classed as intersex? How many of those people are interested in sport? How many of those people want to dedicate their lives to sport full time? You're not left with a lot of potential competitors after you whittle them down...and that's before you get to considering who would actually want to watch it or fund it. A laudable but impractical aim I reckon.

 

I wonder if people asked the same questions about the Special Olympics. I understand that it's infeasible, but what would your alternative be?



#21 Waser Lave

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Posted 17 August 2016 - 12:20 PM

I wonder if people asked the same questions about the Special Olympics. I understand that it's infeasible, but what would your alternative be?

 

I imagine there are a lot more disabled people (especially with all the veterans from recent wars) than there are people who are sufficiently intersexed to warrant being in their own category (i.e. far enough from 99% of female competitors to have an advantage and far enough from male competitors to be disadvantaged). I already gave an alternative, a handicap system based on testosterone levels (since we don't have any better measure currently) whereby the higher your testosterone level the greater your handicap and that way you'd have a more even playing field and intersex athletes could continue competing within the existing male/female groupings.



#22 cara

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Posted 17 August 2016 - 12:28 PM

I imagine there are a lot more disabled people (especially with all the veterans from recent wars) than there are people who are sufficiently intersexed to warrant being in their own category (i.e. far enough from 99% of female competitors to have an advantage and far enough from male competitors to be disadvantaged). I already gave an alternative, a handicap system based on testosterone levels (since we don't have any better measure currently) whereby the higher your testosterone level the greater your handicap and that way you'd have a more even playing field and intersex athletes could continue competing within the existing male/female groupings.

 

Ah, I see. What would types of handicaps would be implemented?



#23 Kaddict

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Posted 17 August 2016 - 03:46 PM

There definitely isn't enough true intersex to have a category in the olympics, but I am all for them having their separate games (a few popular events) like the special olympics. I just feel like people would equate them having their own olympics as the world saying they are disabled (because they assume it is like the special olympics), does that make sense? I am not getting enough sleep on Ob/Gyn rotation... so if not, just skip this post and continue on your merry way.



#24 Ali

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Posted 23 August 2016 - 01:33 PM

http://sportsscienti...-joanna-harper/

Long read but interesting

#25 Waser Lave

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Posted 24 August 2016 - 01:50 AM

http://sportsscienti...-joanna-harper/

Long read but interesting

 

Interesting to read an opinion from somebody who has experienced all sides of the debate. If that 10-12% performance increase is reliable and consistent then I think a handicap system on a sliding scale based on testosterone uptake should be relatively easily possible, we saw how easy it was for Semenya to win the 800m in Rio where she pretty much jogged the entire race so clearly something has to change. :/





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