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Elementary School Track & Field Super Meet
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Sep 25th, 2013
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Oldster said 1 month ago

Surpising next move by the IAAF re: women and testosterone

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  • anonymous Anonymous
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    Anonymous said 1 week ago

    Quoting: KantRun
    "I think many of us have let the appearance of Semenya cloud our judgement. Oldster is right that just because it appears Semenya is not a biological women, does not mean she can’t compete. Question 1 needs to be answered before anyone is barred from competing as a women. A law needs to have hard science behind it and be transparent to the public hence it needs to show where the line is to be a biological women."


    How about no testes, as a good place to start?

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  • kantrun User since:
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    KantRun said 1 week ago

    Quoting: Anonymous
    "How about no testes, as a good place to start?"


    Agreed that would be a perfect line to draw. However as has been pointed out earlier, undeveloped testes don’t necessarily produce testosterone and provide an advantage. So testes could eliminate people who are biologically female for the purpose of sport.

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    Anonymous said 1 week ago

    Quoting: KantRun
    "Agreed that would be a perfect line to draw. However as has been pointed out earlier, undeveloped testes don’t necessarily produce testosterone and provide an advantage. So testes could eliminate people who are biologically female for the purpose of sport."


    Well, it’s good enough for me. Some men are just plain slow, too.

    This post was edited by a Moderator [Issues] 1 week ago . 
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    Anonymous said 1 week ago

    Quoting: KantRun
    "Agreed that would be a perfect line to draw. However as has been pointed out earlier, undeveloped testes don’t necessarily produce testosterone and provide an advantage. So testes could eliminate people who are biologically female for the purpose of sport."


    Also... on that basis, it would seem to be reasonable to categorize very low testosterone males as biologically female for the purpose of sport. In Oldster parlance, that would be risible. A salutary point: biologically female is biologically female and “for the purpose of sport” is an unnecessary add-on that unnecessarily complicates the matter.

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  • oldster User since:
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    Oldster said 1 week ago

    Also... on that basis, it would seem to be reasonable to categorize very low testosterone males as biologically female for the purpose of sport. In Oldster parlance, that would be risible. A salutary point: biologically female is biologically female and “for the purpose of sport” is an unnecessary add-on that unnecessarily complicates the matter.is an unnecessary add-on that unnecessarily complicates the matter."



    Sorry, clarifying that we're speaking about people's sex/gender "for the purposes of sport" is an important gesture towards those who identify as one gender or another socially (.e.g. transexual females who have not transitioned medically or surgically). The focus of a discussion like this is not who is male and who female in some general sense. We have no business at all doing that. We are discussing who might be considered male and who female for the purpose of classification in sport only. So, if we're using testosterone as a proxy for gender, then it would be entirely possible to consider a very low T man as a women "for the purposes of sport" (i.e.biochemically, if not necessarily socially). (I happen to think it's wrong to make T levels a proxy for gender-- because gender is also about socialization, and having been socialized male in most places is an advantage in sport-- but there is nothing wrong, logically, with doing so).

    This post was edited by a Moderator [Issues] 1 week ago . 
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  • anonymous Anonymous
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    Anonymous said 1 week ago

    Quoting: Oldster
    "Sorry, clarifying that we're speaking about people's sex/gender "for the purposes of sport" is an important gesture towards those who identify as one gender or another socially (.e.g. transexual females who have not transitioned medically or surgically). The focus of a discussion like this is not who is male and who female in some general sense. We have no business at all doing that. We are discussing who might be considered male and who female for the purpose of classification in sport only. So, if we're using testosterone as a proxy for gender, then it would be entirely possible to consider a very low T man as a women "for the purposes of sport" (i.e.biochemically, if not necessarily socially). (I happen to think it's wrong to make T levels a proxy for gender-- because gender is also about socialization, and having been socialized male in most places is an advantage in sport-- but there is nothing wrong, logically, with doing so)."


    When we started conflating sex and gender in sport is where we got into trouble, I think. I understand what you are saying and I sympathize with the gender distinction. I’d totally be ok with renaming the divisions Open and Biological Women - whatever. People should be allowed to be who they feel they are, but just as we cannot be a different age when competing in sport, despite greater or lesser maturity, gender should not be a proxy for sex in sporting terms.

    My point is that if we stuck to the biological difference between male and female for the division in sport for men and women, we would be as fair as we can be here, because at least the break would be clear, rational, have a historical basis, and perhaps most importantly, be objective. Otherwise, we get into the swamp of muddy complexity where everyone is fighting over what is an advantage and what is not, various thresholds for hormones, standard deviations, discussions of other offsetting advantages, etc., all the various exceptions, and on and on it goes — an endless argument, and it all sinks under the weight of its absurdity, never to emerge again, and the casualty is women’s sport, because an actual biological female doesn’t have a hope in hell against other (more) biologically male participants, regardless of how talented and motivated she may otherwise be. A modestly talented college level biological male can beat the best biological females in the world in middle distance. That’s reality. If that biological male person is labeled a woman for whatever reason (gender identification, poor medical knowledge interplayed with a DSD, what have you...), she can be an Olympic Champion. Hooray. Biological women, thanks for coming out, but don’t bother playing to win.

    While you consider Maria Mutola to be an example of an intersex athlete who was allowed to compete in the past, may I suggest that she may instead be an example of a biological female who is perhaps on the far side of the testosterone spectrum? [Of course, neither of us has seen her medical records nor Semenya’s.] I say this because she competed when gender (totally the wrong word, should have been ‘sex’ — what an assinine mistake it was to invoke gender. Idiots!) verification tests were de rigeur, so presumably, she passed one (unlike, by all rumor at least, Semenya). She is also short in stature and I understand her appearance is not so different from other women from where she originates as she is to western eyes. If I’m mistaken, and she is not biologically female, I would think it’s a shame she displaced others off the podium though.

    Brought to its ultimate conclusion, to be totally “fair” would require that we have only ourselves with whom to compete. You’re smart enough to get what I mean by that, so I won’t waste our time elaborating.

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  • anonymous Anonymous
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    Andrew Jones said 1 week ago

    My point is that if we stuck to the biological difference between male and female for the division in sport for men and women, we would be as fair as we can be here, because at least the break would be clear, rational, have a historical basis, and perhaps most importantly, be objective.

    Actually, this approach is subjective...it is based on an unrealistic and narrow view of the various groups in society today that require safe access to sport. The nod here to "...a historical basis" is the crux of the issue: modernity shows that old, dusty labels are no longer sufficient.

    The notion that sport should be somehow a simplistically governed bubble inside society is just plain wrong. Sport, like any other human endeavour or expression, is intimately tied to society, is part of society, not unlike The Arts (interestingly, the Olympics once featured an arts component). Granted, sport is, by our application of it, a mostly competitive thing, but suffice it to say that , in the future, the "Best Actor/Actress" and "Best Male/Female Vocalist" (and the like) arts categories will require revision.

    Switching angles slightly, let's follow the money for a second: the IAAF is affiliated with 214 National Member Federations, or the world's Athletics NSOs. The NSOs, in many cases, are publicly funded by taxpayers. Those taxpayers include people of all gender identifications. Justness and fairness would indicate that those who pay into a system should be considered by said system.

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  • oldster User since:
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    Oldster said 1 week ago

    Quoting: Anonymous
    "When we started conflating sex and gender in sport is where we got into trouble, I think. I understand what you are saying and I sympathize with the gender distinction. I’d totally be ok with renaming the divisions Open and Biological Women - whatever. People should be allowed to be who they feel they are, but just as we cannot be a different age when competing in sport, despite greater or lesser maturity, gender should not be a proxy for sex in sporting terms.

    My point is that if we stuck to the biological difference between male and female for the division in sport for men and women, we would be as fair as we can be here, because at least the break would be clear, rational, have a historical basis, and perhaps most importantly, be objective. Otherwise, we get into the swamp of muddy complexity where everyone is fighting over what is an advantage and what is not, various thresholds for hormones, standard deviations, discussions of other offsetting advantages, etc., all the various exceptions, and on and on it goes — an endless argument, and it all sinks under the weight of its absurdity, never to emerge again, and the casualty is women’s sport, because an actual biological female doesn’t have a hope in hell against other (more) biologically male participants, regardless of how talented and motivated she may otherwise be. A modestly talented college level biological male can beat the best biological females in the world in middle distance. That’s reality. If that biological male person is labeled a woman for whatever reason (gender identification, poor medical knowledge interplayed with a DSD, what have you...), she can be an Olympic Champion. Hooray. Biological women, thanks for coming out, but don’t bother playing to win.

    While you consider Maria Mutola to be an example of an intersex athlete who was allowed to compete in the past, may I suggest that she may instead be an example of a biological female who is perhaps on the far side of the testosterone spectrum? [Of course, neither of us has seen her medical records nor Semenya’s.] I say this because she competed when gender (totally the wrong word, should have been ‘sex’ — what an assinine mistake it was to invoke gender. Idiots!) verification tests were de rigeur, so presumably, she passed one (unlike, by all rumor at least, Semenya). She is also short in stature and I understand her appearance is not so different from other women from where she originates as she is to western eyes. If I’m mistaken, and she is not biologically female, I would think it’s a shame she displaced others off the podium though.

    Brought to its ultimate conclusion, to be totally “fair” would require that we have only ourselves with whom to compete. You’re smart enough to get what I mean by that, so I won’t waste our time elaborating."


    This is a thoughtful post. And I would agree-- and have said above-- that biology has to outweigh social factors in defining sex/gender for the purposes of sport, because sports are contests of physical ability. But, when one party (in this case, the IAAF) has opened a discussion about structural advantages in women's sport, one can expect the other party (in this case, the Chand defense) to engage by introducing a fuller definition of femininity-- one with a social/political dimension. To be a women today (or at any time in history, for that matter) is not simply to inhabit a particular kind of physical body, and it means vastly different things to be female in some parts of the world than in others. As per the court's ruling, you would need to isolate a biological variable of extremely decisive importance in order call it a greater advantage in women's sport than having been born and raised female in rich Europe or North America versus rural Africa or Asia. And, in fact, from what we know about the IAAF's own research (the research it so far refuses to expose to outside expert scrutiny), serum testosterone may not be that overwhelmingly decisive biological variable (but, this may be complicated by the inability to get accurate natural T levels for men or women).

    I completely understand some people's frustration over the problem women's sport is now facing. There are some solid reasons for believing that serum T levels represent a decisive difference between the sexes. We know, for instance, that there are marked differences in serum T between men and women at the poles of the continuum (which is almost certainly a major part of the explanation for why men on average perform at higher levels than women in most sports). But, as Tucker points out in one of the interviews linked above in this thread, this basic difference is simply not enough to deny a particular individual-- one who was been born, raised, and recognized as female-- the right to compete in the women's division. Banning a specific individual is a legal matter, and thus must be based on a solid foundation of evidence-- evidence that can provide the basis for a rule that can be applied fairly to all future cases. Tucker's plea is therefore for better science on the role of testosterone in determining athletic performance-- science that can properly isolate the precise level at which serum testosterone effectively turns a female competitor into a typical male for the purposes of sport. It's pretty clear now that the IAAF does not have this science-- or that it has it but doesn't like the probable consequences of its strict application-- i..e mass disqualifications/forced medication of competitors in the "women's" category, with consequent litigation lasting into the next decade. Either way, Pandora's Box is now wide open, for better or worse. As a coach and lifelong fan of the sport, I wish it had never been opened. As a citizen and social scientist, however, I have found it fascinating. Along with the #metoo revelations and debates about the rights of trans people, the Chand/Semenya affair has forced us to grapple with the question of sex/gender and its meaning in ways we never have before-- or at least not since the 1970s and 80s, after the falsely proclaimed end of feminism. It's been a hard and acrimonious slog at points, but it will ultimately produce a more enlightened new normal, just like like the hard discussions and struggles over labour, Civil Rights, peace, and women's reproductive rights did in the 20C. And people should know that sport was an element of all of these earlier movements/discussions.

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  • anonymous Anonymous
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    Anonymous said 1 week ago

    You're a social scientist?

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    Nancy C said 1 week ago

    Quoting: Andrew Jones
    "My point is that if we stuck to the biological difference between male and female for the division in sport for men and women, we would be as fair as we can be here, because at least the break would be clear, rational, have a historical basis, and perhaps most importantly, be objective.

    Actually, this approach is subjective...it is based on an unrealistic and narrow view of the various groups in society today that require safe access to sport. The nod here to "...a historical basis" is the crux of the issue: modernity shows that old, dusty labels are no longer sufficient.

    The notion that sport should be somehow a simplistically governed bubble inside society is just plain wrong. Sport, like any other human endeavour or expression, is intimately tied to society, is part of society, not unlike The Arts (interestingly, the Olympics once featured an arts component). Granted, sport is, by our application of it, a mostly competitive thing, but suffice it to say that , in the future, the "Best Actor/Actress" and "Best Male/Female Vocalist" (and the like) arts categories will require revision.

    Switching angles slightly, let's follow the money for a second: the IAAF is affiliated with 214 National Member Federations, or the world's Athletics NSOs. The NSOs, in many cases, are publicly funded by taxpayers. Those taxpayers include people of all gender identifications. Justness and fairness would indicate that those who pay into a system should be considered by said system."


    Are you seriously going to make the argument that "taxpayers" are the key stakeholders here in arbitrating human rights within sport? The irony of this invocation is rich. Think about the implications of this in the age of Trump (or some of the more pernicious ways that the "taxpayer" as stakeholder as been historically invoked). If any label needs to be retired to the scrap heap its "taxpayer".

    More pertinent to this conversation is the concept of "competing rights". A concept that is enshrined in Human Rights codes. With a bit of creative thinking it should be more than possible to create safe access for all without putting female biological bodies at a significant, competitive disadvantage in our sport.

    Last time I checked the female biological body was not a "dusty, out-dated" label. What an insult to all the people (approximately 50% of the world's population at last check!) inhabiting those "old, dusty, too irrelevant to label" biological female bodies. Acknowledging and respecting the lived biological realities of approximately 50% of society does not in any way take away from the ability to ensure safe access to sport for any other groups or to respect a person's gender identity.

    In what ways do you think that occupying a biological female body has no meaning rooted in lived experience or impact on life/health outcomes? Feel free to think beyond the privilege of the global north.

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  • new-post-last-visitanonymous Anonymous
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    Anonymous said 1 week ago

    Quoting: Nancy C
    "Are you seriously going to make the argument that "taxpayers" are the key stakeholders here in arbitrating human rights within sport? The irony of this invocation is rich. Think about the implications of this in the age of Trump (or some of the more pernicious ways that the "taxpayer" as stakeholder as been historically invoked). If any label needs to be retired to the scrap heap its "taxpayer".

    More pertinent to this conversation is the concept of "competing rights". A concept that is enshrined in Human Rights codes. With a bit of creative thinking it should be more than possible to create safe access for all without putting female biological bodies at a significant, competitive disadvantage in our sport.

    Last time I checked the female biological body was not a "dusty, out-dated" label. What an insult to all the people (approximately 50% of the world's population at last check!) inhabiting those "old, dusty, too irrelevant to label" biological female bodies. Acknowledging and respecting the lived biological realities of approximately 50% of society does not in any way take away from the ability to ensure safe access to sport for any other groups or to respect a person's gender identity.

    In what ways do you think that occupying a biological female body has no meaning rooted in lived experience or impact on life/health outcomes? Feel free to think beyond the privilege of the global north."


    Firstly, you said "key stakeholder", not me. Why in this poly-angled debate would there be any "key" stakeholders? All concerned and interested (and able to prove a critical mass) need to have a voice and be considered.

    Secondly, in the public interest and public commons that indeed is funded publicly through the taxing of the populous, most definitely there needs to be a consideration for all groups. For example, currently when someone dies in Ontario, the death certificate has two boxes only for the gender of the deceased person. Imagine, one cannot even die with representative gender in this jurisdiction!

    Thirdly, my point is that only two labels is the dusty part, not the labels themselves. I should have explained that better.

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