Hida Viloria’s letter to the New York Times on genetic testing of elite female athletes appears in Sunday’s paper:
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 the women’s competition. Their comments were deemed homophobic, and they were forced to apologize.
In the case of women like Caster Semenya, however, sporting federations are choosing to cater to this brand of bullying. When comments such as “Look at her, to me she’s not a woman” were made, she was accused of having an unfair advantage.
Many athletes have medical differences that give them a competitive edge but are not asked to have medical interventions to “remove” the advantage. The I.O.C.’s response was that other differences do not call the athletes’ status as male or female into question. The real issue is not fairness, but that certain athletes are not accepted as real women because of their appearance.
If sporting federations wish to demonstrate fairness and equality to all, they should accept that there are many kinds of men and women, and that punishing certain types to appease gender-norm bullies is not acceptable. HIDA VILORIA
Hida Viloria is an intersex writer and chairperson of the Organisation Intersex International.