Author and Activist
On why the CAS’s Semenya ruling is unscientific and unethical, in Wash Post

On why the CAS’s Semenya ruling is unscientific and unethical, in Wash Post

 

My latest, “Stop trying to make Caster Semenya fit a narrow idea of womanhood. It’s unscientific and unethical,” in The Washington Post, explores the May 1, 2019 ruling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in the case of black South African track star Caster Semenya. I discuss twelve different reasons why the ruling–which upheld the latest IAAF policy for women athletes with naturally high testosterone (hyperandrogenism)–is scientifically flawed and unethical. Enjoy.

Additional.

Word count prevented a more in depth (or conveniently numbered :)) exploration, so I’ve done it below (substantiating hyperlinks included in the original, no time to add here–yet!). Please share to support women with variations in sex characteristics competing with their beautiful, natural gifts intact. To be clear–since I didn’t say it explicitly in WaPo because: know your audience–what sporting bodies are doing to Caster is sickeningly unconscionable and corrupt. To say that something is “discriminatory” but that such discrimination is “necessary”–as the CAS ruling did about the IAAF policy forcing Semenya to take unnecessary drugs if she wants to compete as a woman–signals an open abandonment of ethics and human decency which I think should concern everyone.

Here’s twelve serious flaws with the IAAF’s policy for women like Caster which inform why many of us think it’s gotta go:

1. Naturally occurring testosterone operates differently from fake forms such as steroids, and studies on natural testosterone’s impact show that there is <em>no scientific evidence that it confers an advantage.

2. The fact that women with CAIS have frequently become elite athletes despite having 0% functional testosterone–as opposed to all other women who have some levels of functional T–is further evidence that the testosterone theory used to justify the IAAF’s policy is scientifically unsound and inaccurate.

3. The case of Indian runner Dutee Chand is further evidence that natural T does not confer advantage. Chand was banned under the 2011 policy–which set the T limit at 10 nanoliters per liter. Dutee fought the ruling in the CAS and won, has always run without reducing her high T levels, and yet has never dominated track and field, placing 30th and 40th in her respective events, the 100m and 300m.

4.  Due to a lack of scientific evidence to support their 2011 policy against women with high T, the IAAF commissioned a study, published in 2017, which has been highly criticized by experts for containing faulty data.  

Further, as it didn’t make the cut: The IAAF’s commissioned study was written by members of the IAAF’s own medical staff, Dr. Stephane Bermon and Dr. Pierre-Yves Garnier.

5. Similarly to Dutee Chand, Semenya runs nowhere near men’s times, as her critics insinuate, but solidly within women’s speed ranges [placing only 4th on the list for the world record in a recent race].

6. The IAAF’s latest policy specification to women running only in the 400m-mile events is scientifically unsound, as experts agree that testosterone has more impact in power events, such as shot put and javelin.

7. The IAAF’s proposed policy has been criticized as directly targeting Semenya, as it applies only to women w high T (above 5 nanomoles per liter) competing in her events, the 400 meters to a mile. Chand, for example, was banned under the 2011 policy—which applied to women with over 10 nanomoles per liter, twice the amount of the current policy’s limit—but is eligible under the latest policy because she runs the 100m and 300m events.

8. The IAAF chose to revive the testosterone policy after Chand’s case overturned it in 2015, in response to British runner Lynsey Sharp and other white female athletes’ highly publicized complaints, at the 2016 Olympics, that it was unfair that they had to compete against Semenya.

9. Both Dutee Chand and Caster Sememya have high T levels, but the CAS ruled Dutee Chand can compete without taking hormones,while subsequently, that Caster can not. Thus the factors which distinguish them, and enable a different ruling in Semenya’s case, are social, not scientific; they are: racism (Semenya is black), sexism/gender non-conforming-phobia (Semenya is gender non-conforming/has a “butch” gender expression) and homophobia (Semenya publicly married her wife).

10. The IAAF, IOC and now, CAS, are creating a situation wherein women who escaped medical practices performed on babies and minors with variations in sex characteristics–a practice widely denounced as a harmful human rights violation–are now pressured to undergo such practices as adults or risk their very livelihood. This is a human rights abuse, denounced by the UN.

11. The new IAAF policy targets women of color from the global south because they come from poor regions of the global south where medically unnecessary “normalizing” cosmetic medical treatments which infants and minors born with variations in sex characteristics (VSC) are often subjected to in the first world—a practice widely denounced as a human rights violation—are not available.

12. The IAAF and IOC have implemented polices against intersex women athletes since 1950, but they’ve been overturned because of ethical concerns and the fact that the science does not support them.

Additional point which didn’t make the cut:

13. The IAAF and IOC ignored the scientific findings presented to them when drafting the first regulations for women with high T–in 2011 in direct response to Semenya–in order to appease complaints by white female athletes.

We share the information here, outlined in the text below:

–from Born Both: An Intersex Life, p.247.

 

 

 

My Bibliography

  Here it is, freshly updated, an almost complete bibliography (I recently realized a few older essays from my blog Intersex & Out are still not on here) of my published intersex and non-binary perspectives on gender, embracing difference, human rights, discrimination in sports, and mainly, love & equality. Enjoy! Hida V Bibliography. (Note: I’ve… Continue Reading

Latest about what Pulaski news says about surgeries aimed to fix intersex kids

Latest about what Pulaski news says about surgeries aimed to fix intersex kids

  My latest essay, in OUT, about what the news that Revolutionary War hero Casimir Pulaski may have been intersex says about surgeries aimed to “fix” intersex kids and the military trans ban. I also discuss California’s groundbreaking legislation SB 201, which seeks to ban these surgeries, and how doctors have used false claims to support their… Continue Reading

My latest, The Privilege of Pleasure

My latest, The Privilege of Pleasure

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! I love it when I can get a line into an essay–especially a serious one–that makes most people laugh out loud. See if you can find the one in my latest, “The Privilege of Pleasure.” 🙂 Big thanks ILGA-Europe​ for their amazing advocacy work for LGBTQIA people (and yes, they actually… Continue Reading

My latest, “The Forgotten Vowel,” in INTO

My latest, “The Forgotten Vowel,” in INTO

Really love this one, my latest essay, “The Forgotten Vowel,” about how acknowledging and including intersex people and LGBTQIA+ coalition benefits us all.:) Enjoy, and big thanks to INTO magazine–the only LGBTQ website to receive the honor of being shortlisted (this past October) for the Shorty Award in news and media–for running it! It came… Continue Reading

Remember: Sex Positive = Intersex Positive

Remember: Sex Positive = Intersex Positive

    My latest essay, “Remember: Sex-Positive = Intersex-Positive,” in The Huffington Post, examines the intersectionality of feminism and intersex issues by exploring medical and social views towards clitoral reduction surgeries on intersex baby girls and future women– AND I got to use the word “hermaphrodyke” in it! Enjoy, and please share widely to educate… Continue Reading

Fear of Flying–or at Least the TSA–While Intersex

Fear of Flying–or at Least the TSA–While Intersex

Big thanks to The Daily Beast for publishing my latest essay, “Fear of Flying–or at least the TSA–while intersex.” On March 6, I read that the Supreme Court had remanded the case filed by Gavin Grimm—the 17-year-old transgender student who’s fighting to use the same restroom as the other boys at his school—sending it back… Continue Reading

Born Both Excerpt in OUT Magazine

Born Both Excerpt in OUT Magazine

    I’m very grateful to the editors at OUT, the U.S.’s largest LGBT+ online magazine, for running “Intersex Activist Navigates Gendered Bathrooms, Gay Clubs in Exclusive Born Both Excerpt.” I think it’s a perfect venue for me– a long term queer activist who has at different points embodied every letter in the LGBTI acronym!… Continue Reading

Why We Must Dismantle the Intersex Closet

Why We Must Dismantle the Intersex Closet

  So nice to be writing essays again after a rather long hiatus working on my memoir. Big thanks to The Advocate for running my latest, “Why We Must Dismantle the Intersex Closet.” Please share if you like to help spread awareness and make it easier for your intersex friends and their families to come… Continue Reading

Essay published in Narrative Inquiry in Bioethics medical journal

Essay published in Narrative Inquiry in Bioethics medical journal

  My essay, “Promoting Health and Social Progress by Accepting and Depathologizing Benign Intersex Traits”, has been published in the Narrative Inquiry in Bioethics fall issue, which features a Narrative Symposium on Intersex. From the NIB website’s description of the symposium: What are the joys and heartaches faced by people diagnosed intersex? These symposium authors offer readers an honest look into their lives.… Continue Reading

Stop Freaking Out About Intersex Female Athletes

Stop Freaking Out About Intersex Female Athletes

Well, they changed my original title – “Bullying By Any Other Name: What’s Really Behind Regulations for Women with High Testosterone” – to, “Stop Freaking Out About Female Intersex Athletes”, but otherwise I’m thrilled to have this essay run in the Advocate! (Read here: http://www.advocate.com/commentary/2014/09/18/op-ed-stop-freaking-out-about-female-intersex-athletes).   It elaborates on the issue in all the ways… Continue Reading

What’s In A Name: Intersex & Identity

What’s In A Name: Intersex & Identity

My latest blog post/essay —  What’s in a Name: Intersex and Identity — discusses the history of society deeming people who are different as innately inferior, how this is currently happening to intersex people, and how this language does not support equality. Hope you like it, & thanks to the Advocate for running it! http://www.advocate.com/commentary/2014/05/14/op-ed-whats-name-intersex-and-identity Continue Reading

Germany’s Third-Gender Law Fails on Equality, in The Advocate

Germany’s Third-Gender Law Fails on Equality, in The Advocate

  Yes, there’s more to say about Germany’s new third gender law, especially to readers that understand the LGBTI perspective and the issues that affect us.  Also, I got to correct inaccurate press statements about Australia’s third gender law applying to intersex babies, which it doesn’t, just adults who want it. Read “Germany’s Third Gender… Continue Reading

Why We Must Protect Intersex Babies, in The Advocate

Why We Must Protect Intersex Babies, in The Advocate

    I spoke so much in the 90’s and the first decade of the 21st century about the serious harms caused by medically unnecessary cosmetic genital surgeries on intersex babies — which I and other intersex people call “intersex genital mutilation”, or IGM — that my essays in the past few years have focused… Continue Reading

Intersex: The Final Coming Out Frontier

Intersex: The Final Coming Out Frontier

  I’m thrilled to have one of my blog essays, “Intersex: The Final Coming Out Frontier“,  published in The Advocate, the US’s oldest, largest LGBT (hopefully soon to be LGBTI) publication. Yay for inclusion! (Even if they did use the dorkiest picture of me ever, lol!)    Continue Reading

Your Beautiful Child: Information for Parents

Your Beautiful Child: Information for Parents

I am touched and excited to announce my new free resource for parents of intersex newborns: Your Beautiful Child: Information for Parents. It is available in two versions: — Your Beautiful Child Tri-fold Brochure — Your Beautiful Child One-Sheet Version This project was a labor of love, inspired by the many mothers who have asked… Continue Reading

Zero Tolerance to FGM — Unless They’re Intersex (aka US Ban on Female Genital Mutilation Mired in Racism and Fear)

Zero Tolerance to FGM — Unless They’re Intersex (aka US Ban on Female Genital Mutilation Mired in Racism and Fear)

  Note: This article is based on my blog post Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation — Unless They’re Intersex I’m happy to report that it was re-published in The Global Herald, but note that they changed the title, unfortunately, to: “US Ban on Female Genital Mutilation Mired in Racism and Fear.” /http://theglobalherald.com/u-s-ban-on-female-genital-mutilation-mired-in-racism-and-fear/29098/ Continue Reading

Discriminatory Views Create Discriminatory Medical Treatment

Discriminatory Views Create Discriminatory Medical Treatment Author: Hida Viloria, Chairperson, Organisation Intersex International (OII), Director OII USA http://oiiinternational.com/oiiusa/intersex-information/intersex-people-and-medical-treatment/ Note: A small percentage of intersex variations sometimes require medical attention for immediate health reasons.  This treatment is necessary, and is not what I am referring to below. People who promote nonconsensual genital surgeries and/or hormone therapy for… Continue Reading

My Letter to the Sports Editor of the New York Times

My Letter to the Sports Editor of the New York Times

  Click here to see the original posting at the NYT  >> To the Sports Editor: Re “No Clear Option for Testing,” June 18: At the 2010 Winter Olympics, a sportscaster said, in reference to the figure skater Johnny Weir, “We should make him pass a gender test.” Another jokingly suggested that Weir compete in… Continue Reading

Intersex and Unnecessary Medical Treatment

Discriminatory Views Create Discriminatory Medical Treatment Author: Hida Viloria, Chairperson, Organisation Intersex International (OII), Director OII USA http://oiiinternational.com/oiiusa/ Note: A small percentage of intersex variations sometimes require medical attention for immediate health reasons.  This treatment is necessary, and is not what I am referring to below. People who promote nonconsensual genital surgeries and/or hormone therapy for… Continue Reading

Lobbying the IOC on behalf  intersex women athletes

Lobbying the IOC on behalf intersex women athletes

    Originally published as “Gender Rules In Sport: Leveling the Paying Field or Reversed Doping?” on April 11, 2011 in The Global Herald online. https://web.archive.org/web/20130514122301/http://theglobalherald.com/opinion-gender-rules-in-sport-leveling-the-playing-field-or-reversed-doping/14837/ Continue Reading

Interesting fact: At approx. 1.7% of the population, Intersex people are as common as red-heads. “Everyone’s met an intersex person, you just may not know you have.”

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