At the first stress test of his promise, Coe’s rhetoric has come unstuck. Far from defending fair competition for women, his organisation has formulated a proposal that would debase the very notion. If it is approved in March – and the official line is that this is not a fait accompli – it would not simply be a betrayal of female athletes. It would, quite frankly, be gutless leadership.
Yes, trans and sports. Obviously, birth sex, your gender doesn’t matter a damn – gender being that social construct.
According to consultation documents revealed by Telegraph Sport, the governing body’s preferred option is to allow transgender athletes and those with differences in sexual development (DSDs) to compete in female events, so long as their testosterone is reduced below 2.5 nanomoles per litre for two years.
Now, whether that’s the right number or not isn’t my point. But the rules are going to have to be of that order. Because “differences in sexual development”.
Can’t recall what Caster Semenya’s thing is but absolutely no one is claiming that she’s gone off and had tackle removed etc. Rather – I think, without looking it up – she’s androgen insensitive or summat? And if she isn’t then there are others who are. XY, but the insensitivity means the testosterone produces no reaction and so the default human development happens, to female. Testes in place of ovaries – and in the place of ovaries – and development of vagina, subcutaneous fat on the hips and all the rest.
OK, so we’re trying to be fair here. Identified as female at birth – identified, not allocated – and often, until puberty and the absence of menarche no one knows any different.
So how do we build our category then? “Women” who are here, non-women who are there?
There is in fact no answer here. Sure, tackle slicing can be dealt with easily enough. But there really are edge cases. And we’re going to be unfair to some on either side of that edge whatever we do. So, which set of edge people are we going to be unfair to? Testosterone levels might be the least bad method. Maybe.
The real point here being that we need some distinction to be made because that’s the whole point of having women’s sport, a distinction is being made. And merely “no tackle slicers” isn’t good enough as a distinction. So, what is?