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One thing I don't understand with the olympics is that my reps are called Team GB, which represent Great Britain and Northern Ireland, instead of Team UK, which is the UK. The UK is England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

In Eurovision we are the United Kingdom (UK). Why not in the olympics, even though the same countries are included.

 

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49 minutes ago, Theresa Tennyson said:

What do sperm and ova have to do with athletic competition?

Well, the fact that they determine one's reproductive class and, therefore, the many ways in which it will differ from the other one.

Sperm are produced by male bodies which are comprehensively different to female ones (and believe it or not, this didn't used to be a controversial statement. Historically, when we have been trying to decide who to send to war or whom to deny a vote, we have not found the distinction hard to make.).

A male body that has gone through male puberty not only produces sperm, it also produces significantly more testosterone, more muscle/fast twitch muscle, a bigger heart, more haemoglobin, a different gait because of the hips, and so on. Because it is designed for a completely different reproductive purpose than a female one. And, overall, a bigger skeleton, but I tend not to mention that one because then people say "but tall women!" as if tall women are men.

The end result is a body that has such a comprehensive athletic advantage over a female one that is comparable for age and fitness etc (and probably many that aren't; you may find yourself world class at 43 after injury and blockers, even when pitted against totally fit women 20 years younger), that it is unfair, unsporting and often unsafe to compete them together. 

It is pure sophistry to attempt to reduce it down to "this one body bit".

However, if you don't think it makes any difference, then one might ask why Hubbard wanted to compete in the women's contest. Or how we managed to work out which contest was the women's one for Hubbard to go into. 

 

Edited by Amina Sopwith
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2 hours ago, Phil Deakins said:

Basically, a person needs to be XX to compete in women-only competitions. I don't know a great deal about it but I do know that, if an XX (normal) woman has to compete against XY people, or any of the rare varieties that include a Y, then it would totally unfair on the woman.

I have no idea what the NZ guy is. He might just be an YX guy who fancies being a girl, which, in anyone's opinion, makes him ineligible for women-only competitions. Cutting a bit off here, and growing a bit there doesn't change a person's actual gender.

ETA: It doesn't matter what a sport's governing body says. If their rules allow anyone other than XX women to compete in women-only competitions, then the rule-makers have got it absolutely wrong.

https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/raised-female-genes-say-xy-flna1c9441901

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Swyer's syndrome is a rare condition in which a female body has XY chromosomes. The Y chromosome effectively doesn't work. People with Swyer's syndrome are female. They have a uterus, tubes and female genitalia, they just lack functioning ovaries. Lacking functioning ovaries isn't a medical condition in a male body. 

As I said, DSDs are classifiable to male or female and the rules could lay out which DSD belongs in which class.

I happen to know someone with Swyer's syndrome who gets very hurt and offended at the idea that she is somehow not female.

Edited by Amina Sopwith
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Incidentally, the blogs and spokespeople from the DSD community that I've read about give a consensus that people with DSDs are generally fed up with being dragged into this as "proof" that sex doesn't exist. I know I would be. And I don't see what the relevance is anyway if we are talking about people who don't have a DSD.

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27 minutes ago, Phil Deakins said:

One thing I don't understand with the olympics is that my reps are called Team GB, which represent Great Britain and Northern Ireland, instead of Team UK, which is the UK. The UK is England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

In Eurovision we are the United Kingdom (UK). Why not in the olympics, even though the same countries are included.

 

I'm not sure, but I think it may have something to do with how the funding works.

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15 minutes ago, Amina Sopwith said:

Swyer's syndrome is a rare condition in which a female body has XY chromosomes. The Y chromosome effectively doesn't work. People with Swyer's syndrome are female. They have a uterus and tubes, they just lack functioning ovaries. Lacking functioning ovaries isn't a medical condition in a male body.

As I said, DSDs are classifiable to male or female and the rules could lay out which DSD belongs in which class.

I happen to know someone with Swyer's syndrome who gets very hurt and offended at the idea that she is somehow not female.

As well she should.

However, shouldn't Caster Semeya and the Namibian sprinters who've lived their entire lives as women be equally hurt and offended by that idea? The problem here is, they do have a biological advantage over the typical female.

I'm not saying that athletics shouldn't have categories due to natural factors in ability. However, when you set the only categories as "men" and "women" you create a real problem because the biology isn't nearly as clear cut as people seem to think. "Men" and "women" are genetically almost identical, and most of the differences we think of as "genetic" are hormonally based, somewhat capricious and can have the same effect on either "sex." Then you get into the position of saying that if your body works a certain way you're a "man" and not a "woman" even if that's how you've been raised your entire life. 

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Just now, Theresa Tennyson said:

As well she should.

However, shouldn't Caster Semeya and the Namibian sprinters who've lived their entire lives as women be equally hurt and offended by that idea? The problem here is, they do have a biological advantage over the typical female.

I've got a lot of sympathy for Semenya because her DSD does make her appear externally female, and she truly thought she was for a long time. Though she was often pulled aside while doing sports at school and taken off to be checked privately, because she was so atypical, so demonstrably different to the rest of her female class. 

Her DSD is 46 XY DSD, which is usually male. My understanding is that she is male by sex classification. As you say, she has a biological advantage. The other women who raced her noticed it. It is demonstrable.

At the 2016 Summer Olympics women's 800 metres, Semenya took gold, Francine Niyonsaba took silver and Margaret Wambui took bronze. All three winners have a variation of XY DSD, and not Swyer's. Like I said earlier, DSDs are over represented in women's sports (not men's) as a percentage of how many people have them in the general population. Yes, I think this is amiss. If there really is no difference, why could they not compete in the men's category?

9 minutes ago, Theresa Tennyson said:

I'm not saying that athletics shouldn't have categories due to natural factors in ability. However, when you set the only categories as "men" and "women" you create a real problem because the biology isn't nearly as clear cut as people seem to think. "Men" and "women" are genetically almost identical, and most of the differences we think of as "genetic" are hormonally based, somewhat capricious and can have the same effect on either "sex." 

I've seen people say we should categorise on leg length or heart size or whatever, and I truly, truly cannot see why it would be OK to segregate based on these characteristics, but not natal sex, when natal sex is the most obvious, dimorphic and comprehensive difference between any group of athletes. Menstruation alone should be enough to warrant it. 

Men and women are similar enough in that we are all categorically human (and the existence of people born, say, without fully developed legs does not mean humans are not a bipedal species). They are also categorically different enough to have two distinct and classifiable reproductive sex classes that DO make a difference to athletic ability, to the point where we would have no woman champions if we don't make the distinction. Hormone imbalances etc can occur but they don't make you change sex. A woman with PCOS is not a man. 

Of course you get masculine women and feminine men and that's great. But it makes no difference to the reality of comprehensive male athletic advantage when competing like for like (and often when not, like Hubbard).

14 minutes ago, Theresa Tennyson said:

Then you get into the position of saying that if your body works a certain way you're a "man" and not a "woman" even if that's how you've been raised your entire life. 

Well yes, because your body functioning a certain way is literally what sex is. Male or female. You may find that limiting, well, I find my permanent labour injuries limiting, but playing with semantics won't change their reality, nor the fact they could not possibly occur in a male body.

How you have been raised your whole life sometimes matters, but in a test of speed and strength, athletic integrity states that physical reality needs to come first. It's just not fair to women otherwise.

But this is precisely why I think understanding that sex is merely reproductive class is liberating. In some cases, it matters. Fair competition in athletics is one of them. Gender roles? Doesn't mean a thing. You can dress how you like, have any dynamic in your relationships, have any interests (we had a trans woman at my old burlesque class and she was great fun), whatever. But the physical difference is there, and sometimes - sometimes - it matters.

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13 minutes ago, Amina Sopwith said:

At the 2016 Summer Olympics women's 800 metres, Semenya took gold, Francine Niyonsaba took silver and Margaret Wambui took bronze. All three winners have a variation of XY DSD, and not Swyer's. Like I said earlier, DSDs are over represented in women's sports (not men's) as a percentage of how many people have them in the general population. Yes, I think this is amiss. If there really is no difference, why could they not compete in the men's category?

 

So, you're saying they're men, right?

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5 minutes ago, hippopotomonstrosesquipedalian said:

Just curious, where are you going with that? What's the point you're trying to make?

If there's a category for "men" and you're saying that someone should be in that category, that would suggest that the person is a "man." If the person isn't, there's a problem with the category.

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1 minute ago, hippopotomonstrosesquipedalian said:

 

Surely we can choose to expand the "men" category, if we judge it would best achieve fairness to female athletes.

Would it still be a "men's" category then?

I have no problem with a top-level "open/unlimited" category and a category designed around rational athletic factors that would be the equivalent of the current "women's" category as long as they get out of the people-labeling business.

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58 minutes ago, Theresa Tennyson said:

So, you're saying they're men, right?

They are male. That's not my subjective opinion. It's the sex class of their bodies, with the DSD.

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13 minutes ago, Theresa Tennyson said:

Would it still be a "men's" category then?

Well, we have been told it was still women's weightlifting with Hubbard competing. I don't really understand why it's only ever women who are expected to accept the sex based disadvantage in their sports. 

 

21 minutes ago, Theresa Tennyson said:

I have no problem with a top-level "open/unlimited" category and a category designed around rational athletic factors that would be the equivalent of the current "women's" category as long as they get out of the people-labeling business.

If it's equivalent to a women's category, why can't you define and call it that? "Labelling" is not always a bad thing. Words have and need meanings. People need terms to define who they are, and enable you to identify them so you can see whether or not they're being treated fairly. That absolutely goes for trans people too. If we had no word for trans people, we couldn't recognise their existence.

Weightlifting wasn't even an Olympic sport for women until 2000. If we don't have a word to identify and recognise women, how would we have recognised that female weightlifters couldn't compete as Olympians?

Perhaps the solution is a male category for male people, a female category for female people and an Open category for anyone who, for whatever reason, does not wish to compete in their reproductive sex class. Might be because it is different to their gender identity, or it might be any other reason. I would be interested to see how many women choose it.

 

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21 minutes ago, Amina Sopwith said:

If it's equivalent to a women's category, why can't you define and call it that? "Labelling" is not always a bad thing. Words have and need meanings. People need terms to define who they are, and enable you to identify them so you can see whether or not they're being treated fairly. That absolutely goes for trans people too. If we had no word for trans people, we couldn't recognise their existence

 

Again, what does reproduction have to do with athletics? If the actual physical, athletic differences are as extreme and fundamental as you say, wouldn't it be easy enough for them to be measured?

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Just now, Theresa Tennyson said:

Again, what does reproduction have to do with athletics? If the differences are as extreme and fundamental as you say, wouldn't it be easy enough for them to be measured?

I've answered this question already, several times. Your reproductive class affects your entire build. 

And yes, it is easy enough to measure if someone is male or female. We've never had a problem with it when deciding who to send to war or who to send to the delivery room. Flame wars have erupted on here over people angry that someone lied to them in SL about which reproductive class they were. Everyone seemed to know the definition. As before, how did Hubbard know which contest to enter after coming out as trans? If you want a category that is equivalent to the women's, why not base it on whether people are female or not?

If you want to measure legs or hearts, why would you not look at the clearest and most comprehensive measure of speed and strength? The measuring for that one is done. We know that men have more muscle, more haemoglobin, etc etc. We know they're faster. The strongest 10% of women can only beat the bottom 10% of men in hand grip. If a man and woman are the same height and weight, then assuming similarity in age, fitness etc, he will have more muscle and less fat. And he won't ever menstruate!

Male and female bodies are comprehensively different at a class level, and certainly at elite level when everyone is in peak condition. I am sorry if some people don't like that, I'm not a massive fan of the fact myself in many ways (these labour injuries are horrible, you know), but it's true. It has no bearing on gender identity and how someone chooses to live and present, but when it comes to athletic ability and integrity, it matters. And it is not fair to women to claim that it doesn't.

 

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7 minutes ago, Amina Sopwith said:

And yes, it is easy enough to measure if someone is male or female. We've never had a problem with it when deciding who to send to war or who to send to the delivery room.

 

I remember watching an episode of a "true tales of the emergency room" thing where a patient walked in complaining of various symptoms and the medical staff was treating them a bit gingerly because it was obvious to them that the patient was a male presenting as female and they were kind of beating around the bush rather than coming right out and saying it.

It turned out that the patient was pregnant.

Edited by Theresa Tennyson
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8 hours ago, Amina Sopwith said:

I've got a lot of sympathy for Semenya because her DSD does make her appear externally female, and she truly thought she was for a long time. Though she was often pulled aside while doing sports at school and taken off to be checked privately, because she was so atypical, so demonstrably different to the rest of her female class. 

Her DSD is 46 XY DSD, which is usually male. My understanding is that she is male by sex classification. As you say, she has a biological advantage. The other women who raced her noticed it. It is demonstrable.

At the 2016 Summer Olympics women's 800 metres, Semenya took gold, Francine Niyonsaba took silver and Margaret Wambui took bronze. All three winners have a variation of XY DSD, and not Swyer's. Like I said earlier, DSDs are over represented in women's sports (not men's) as a percentage of how many people have them in the general population. Yes, I think this is amiss. If there really is no difference, why could they not compete in the men's category?

I've seen people say we should categorise on leg length or heart size or whatever, and I truly, truly cannot see why it would be OK to segregate based on these characteristics, but not natal sex, when natal sex is the most obvious, dimorphic and comprehensive difference between any group of athletes. Menstruation alone should be enough to warrant it. 

 

Okay, puzzle time. 46 XY DSD is actually a wide range of different syndromes - all it means is they all involve having 46 chromosomes with the 23rd pair being an XY pair.

https://rarediseases.info.nih.gov/diseases/8538/46-xy-disorders-of-sexual-development/

One of these is Swyer's syndrome, which you've labeled as "female."

One of these is 5-alpha reductase syndrome, which is probably what Caster Semenya has - it involves not being able to form male genitalia in the womb but having internal testes that produce testosterone, which the body is capable of reacting to. You've labeled it "male."

Now consider androgen-insensitivity syndrome - the body has internal testes but can't react to testosterone, leaving it with a dead-end *****, no uterus* and looking like an XX female - in fact, probably not even having pubic hair. In 1996 genetic testing at the Atlanta Olympics discovered that about half a dozen "female" athletes had this syndrome without knowing it. It gives no athletic advantage. So, would this be "the natal type that can produce sperm" - male - or "the natal type that can produce ova" - female?

*Everyone has the necessary genetic code for a uterus, but the creation of testes usually creates a hormone that suppresses it.

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7 hours ago, Theresa Tennyson said:

I remember watching an episode of a "true tales of the emergency room" thing where a patient walked in complaining of various symptoms and the medical staff was treating them a bit gingerly because it was obvious to them that the patient was a male presenting as female and they were kind of beating around the bush rather than coming right out and saying it.

It turned out that the patient was pregnant.

Then the patient's sex was indeed determinable, even if the staff made a mistake.

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1 hour ago, Theresa Tennyson said:

Okay, puzzle time. 46 XY DSD is actually a wide range of different syndromes - all it means is they all involve having 46 chromosomes with the 23rd pair being an XY pair.

https://rarediseases.info.nih.gov/diseases/8538/46-xy-disorders-of-sexual-development/

One of these is Swyer's syndrome, which you've labeled as "female."

One of these is 5-alpha reductase syndrome, which is probably what Caster Semenya has - it involves not being able to form male genitalia in the womb but having internal testes that produce testosterone, which the body is capable of reacting to. You've labeled it "male."

Now consider androgen-insensitivity syndrome - the body has internal testes but can't react to testosterone, leaving it with a dead-end *****, no uterus* and looking like an XX female - in fact, probably not even having pubic hair. In 1996 genetic testing at the Atlanta Olympics discovered that about half a dozen "female" athletes had this syndrome without knowing it. It gives no athletic advantage. So, would this be "the natal type that can produce sperm" - male - or "the natal type that can produce ova" - female?

*Everyone has the necessary genetic code for a uterus, but the creation of testes usually creates a hormone that suppresses it.

Like I said, DSDs are overrepresented in women's sports, and not men's. 

AIS can be complete or partial. It affects the development of an XY person who would otherwise be a typical male. In PAIS, testosterone does have some effect on development and genitals are externally ambiguous. In CAIS, it does not and genitals are female. 

Children with AIS may have fully or partially undescended male parts, but no uterus or ovaries.

Doctors can usually discuss with parents the best way to raise their AIS child. 

But none of this proves that sex doesn't exist (it is a recognisable medical condition only because it does), or isn't clearly definable in almost everyone, or highly relevant in sports. As I've said before, several times, sports bodies are aware of DSDs and can write the rules, in connection with experts, to determine which DSD should come under which category.  Alternatively, we could have an Open category if enough people would like that.

Focusing on rare DSDs, which can be accounted for if the sports authority is willing to do the research and write the rules accordingly, is an obfuscation of the question of whether a male person with no DSD should be allowed to compete against females. 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Amina Sopwith
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In fact, one last post and then I think I've had enough. Internet discussions generally have a shelf life before pretty much everything has been said. And the more this goes on, the more likely it is to cause offence or distress to someone reading, which is absolutely not my intention.

I notice that even though this is a very topical discussion, most people are staying well out, even though I'm sure very many are reading. I think I know why. We are all torn, understandably, between wanting to support trans people to live as their authentic selves without victimisation, and also wanting to support women to have athletic integrity in their sports. (And a lot of women, if I'm honest, are frightened to say what they think. I'm sure anyone who knows the Internet reasonably well will be aware that those people who do make abusive, violent-minded and highly sexualised online attacks when this subject is discussed have little trouble identifying women when they do.)

We know that DSDs exist and there are rare cases when someone's sex is not easily determined by looking at them, even looking at them naked. It doesn't mean sex doesn't exist, any more than the existence of people with webbed or extra fingers means that humans are not a pentadactyl species. It's a rare variation from the typical, and sports bodies can write into their constitutions how they should be included in order to keep everything fair, with input from experts and people from the DSD community. (And the impression I get from people in this community who have written about it is that they are really tired of being pulled up in this debate as "proof" that sex doesn't exist or isn't plain to see in the overwhelming majority of people, including a great many of them. Many are offended by it.) Focusing on this DSD or that DSD doesn't alter the fact of sex, or the fact that DSDs can be included within a sporting constitution. Though I would posit that if we find XX natal females are frequently losing all or most medals to people with an XY DSD variation, that may be a sign that we should review the rules to make sure they are still fair. If an XY DSD alone gives a significant advantage over natal females, an XY male athlete with no DSD will have an even larger one. As before, if sex doesn't exist, why did Hubbard want to change classes after coming out as trans and how was the preferred class determined?

DSDs are not relevant anyway in the question of whether it is fair, or safe, for a transwoman with no DSD to compete with natal women. It is a deflection and an obfuscation.

The athletic male advantage is comprehensive. I suppose we could measure all athletes for every affected characteristic to segregate that way: bone density, skeleton size, muscle/fat ratio as a percentage of weight, fast twitch muscle, haemoglobin production, heart size, Q angle, lactic acid levels and so on, but it seems a grossly complex and massive task, and entirely unnecessary. I don't know how you would account for menstruation at all. We have already done the measuring for the sex based differences. They are comprehensive and demonstrable enough to justify the segregation. Why would you go through all of those to find your basis for segregation, but absolutely not go near the single most easily determinable, influential and comprehensive characteristic, for which you know which class will always hold the ultimate world record? 

The IOC did not consult women's sports bodies when determining that a trans woman athlete could compete as a woman as long as she got her testosterone (rocket fuel, apparently) down to under 10 nanomoles per litre, a level that would get a natal female disqualified for doping because it's nearly five times what she could expect to have. Androgen blockers affect performance but they do not reverse all the effects of male puberty or turn a man into a woman. I do not see how anyone could see 43 year old, recently injured Hubbard up there with ultimate female weightlifters 20 years younger as a worthy and equal contender, and not understand that it simply isn't fair or sporting. It's not on. It's just not cricket, as we say over here.

And of course, gender identity is another matter entirely. It exists as a concept only because it's distinct from sex. I find this very liberating. Whatever body you were born with may affect how you compete in sports - women deserve fairness too - but it categorically does not affect how you wish to live, present or express your identity and self. (Although we do still need some words to differentiate between male and female people because there are times when it matters. I've been called a "bleeder", "menstruator" and "person with a cervix", and I'm not happy.) 

So yes. I'm tired now and I'm going to leave it there, but I hope this discussion has been useful for people. And I certainly hope it has not caused any offence. If it has, then I apologise, but this is important.

 

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12 hours ago, Amina Sopwith said:

I've answered this question already, several times. Your reproductive class affects your entire build. 

And yes, it is easy enough to measure if someone is male or female. We've never had a problem with it when deciding who to send to war or who to send to the delivery room.

 

4 hours ago, Amina Sopwith said:

Focusing on rare DSDs, which can be accounted for if the sports authority is willing to do the research and write the rules accordingly, is an obfuscation of the question of whether a male person with no DSD should be allowed to compete against females.

Here's the problem. In the history of high level "women's" athletics, DSD's have literally always been an issue. There have been women's medalists since at least the 1920's who were biologically "male" on some level, but they spent their entire lives considered as "girls/women" by the society they lived in.

https://longreads.com/2016/08/18/the-life-and-murder-of-stella-walsh-intersex-olympic-champion/

Babe Didrickson never had a child. We don't have any conclusive evidence of her biology. Tamara and Irina Press were listed as "girls" in their official records when they were small children.

When you put biological walls around "women's" athletics, aren't you saying to these people, "Well, you aren't a girl at all?" And isn't this whole controversy about making things "fair for girls"?

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