There is now a new gender category. It is related to women in sports whose competitors accuse them of being men masquerading as women to win unfairly. These women, such as Indian track star Santhi Soundarajan, are tested. And the testing no longer includes just a visual inspection. It now includes physique measurements, muscle mass tests, CAT scans, XY chromosome checks, testosterone levels and hormone receptor levels.
The trouble is that some of these athletes flunk some of these tests but pass others. For example, testosterone levels in men are on average 10 times that of women, so if a female athlete has a testosterone level like that of a man, international sports-competition committees rule them ineligible to compete with other women. But then it’s found that some women possess hormone receptors that fail to process the excess testosterone, so high testosterone levels have no effect on athletic prowess.
When it gets complicated, experts can’t define them. So they have created a new sex category. It’s called intersex. So now there is male, female, transgender and those of the intersex persuasion.
I recently read an article about these athletes in The New York Times. Back in 1936, nobody believed that a man would masquerade as a woman in a track and field event. When Helen Stephens was accused by competitors and journalists of being a man at the 1936 Olympics in Germany, they checked to see. What they saw was that she was a woman. But because of this, the Olympic Committee set up a system of sex confirmation for future athletes. Early on, some suspect female athletes had to pass a visual inspection to proceed. At another point, every woman had to be inspected. If they passed, they were given a card confirming their womanhood. At still another point, it was decided that a test for high testosterone levels plus a visual inspection should be necessary.
Then came the chromosome test. Ewa Klobukowska of Poland was banned for flunking that test in 1967 and her three world records were annulled. Others flunked parts of other tests and lost medals, were banned or stripped of world records. Humiliation and accusations followed. And then there were tests that were challenged and medals reinstated and apologies offered. A woman named Marie José Martínez-Patiño had that happen to her in 1985.
In 2014, an Indian runner named Dutee Chand appealed her Commonwealth Games ban in court. Her tests showed only one category where she was out of bounds, her male hormone levels, especially testosterone. Her case was argued and her lawyers were so persuasive arguing about all the different ways she might be a woman—including that until she was banned she was considered a woman, thought she was a woman and so had done nothing wrong to deceive anyone—that the court simply threw out the entire testing process that the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) uses. It remains thrown out today for all athletes. Chand would be free to compete. And unless the IAAF can prove that the tests that Chand failed made a difference while other things, such as diet, level of coaching, family wealth and genetics and country of origin did not, they would remain with that decision. They gave the IAAF until 2017 to prove that, as The New York Times reported, “a competitive advantage conferred by naturally high testosterone in women was comparable to men’s advantage.” It’s the first time in history that a court has struck down a complete policy of a sport’s governing body.
Reading all this, I was struck by something. All these athletes were women. On average, women run slower than men. This whole article is based on this belief. That is why there has never been a woman masquerading as a man in track and field.
It’s said we should celebrate our differences, and I am for that. But too often we fall off from celebrating these differences to accuse one or another of us of noticing these differences. These differences, if in need of celebration, should be noticed. Why do we now turn a blind eye to it all?
Some people say that sporting events should be open to everyone no matter what sex they are. Let the best person win.
I don’t agree with them, but they do have a point. And what I really want to know, as I read about this new sex category, is why on the bell curve women live eight years longer than men in America. Life is precious. I submit that eight years is a lot of years to miss. Personally, I will miss them. Can this not be spoken about as a shortcoming?
I also think that giving birth, painful as it might be when it happens, is a wonderful gift for a woman, who now has a whole new person to love and care for that has come right out of her body.
In most cultures other than ours, particularly among primitive cultures, women give birth, nurse and nurture, and men, who do not give birth, hunt and protect. There are exceptionsto this behavior, but to behave as if acknowledging this fact is somehow wrong is, well—as a man, I’d trade a whole lot of points in the glass ceiling to have those two things. A baby. And a longer life.
Except maybe my testosterone level tells me that would be a mistake. Why is that? You want to make something of it?
Don’t give me that crap, fella, that if you died eight years ago you would have missed out on all things that happened in the years 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015, which you would have gotten to see if you were a woman—and what is anybody gonna do about it. You think you have rights? And what was so good about all these years, anyway?
Okay, we had Game of Thrones, eight years of Obama and the self-driving car. Happy now?