Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Sure, in certain sports, a woman with naturally high levels of androgens has an advantage. But is it an unfair advantage? I don’t think so. Some men naturally have higher levels of androgens than other men. Is that unfair?
Consider an analogy: Men on average are taller than women. But do we stop women from competing if a male-typical height gives them an advantage over shorter women? Can we imagine a Michele Phelps or a Patricia Ewing being told, “You’re too tall to compete as a woman?” So why would we want to tell some women, “You naturally have too high a level of androgens to compete as a woman?” There seems to be nothing wrong with this kind of natural advantage.
Sports officials have claimed the genetic tests on Semenya will take weeks due to their complexity. In my opinion, it's not the tests that will take weeks--those will take days. It's the ensuing debate over the results and figuring out what comes next which will take the real time.
Though I hate for Semenya or any individual to be placed in the spotlight amidst such controversy, on the positive side I think this whole issue is forcing a more open dialogue around a subject which continues to be taboo.
Folks who are intersex, or who just don't neatly fit our definitions of the binary male/female condition, have been around as long as human history, and it's a bit sad that we haven't wholly accepted them.