A backed up Twitter thread, because I regularly delete my tweets (here’s why, and why you should, too).
The change of rules about testosterone levels in women athletes is a blatant attempt to get at top athletes like Caster Semenya. It’s also no doubt informed by racism, as there’s a lot of anti-blackness targeted at CS. I’m also fascinated by this obsession with testosterone.
See, pretty much every athlete who is competing at a high level is a genetic freak of some sort, with a mutation that gives them an advantage in their sport.
For example, Usain Bolt is super-fast because he’s super-tall. His big long legs mean that he completes a course in fewer strides than someone shorter.
There’s a lot of natural variation in humans, and it’s why most of us, no matter how hard we train, will never become sporting superstars, because we lack particular inborn quirks that give us the edge from Very Good to Excellent.
Now, one of those things which varies naturally in people is testosterone level. Some women have high testosterone. Some have low testosterone. Some men have high testosterone. Some have low testosterone. That’s a natural variation.
And it’s a natural variation much like some people have proportionally longer legs than others, or that some people have red blood cells that’ll carry oxygen better, or whatever. We vary, naturally, and some variances are helpful to sporting ability.
Now, historically, we’ve divided sport into men’s and women’s. It’s only recently that there’s become reason to question these two neat separate categories, because science shows it’s a bit more complicated than that.
There’s been a predictable backlash over this, because a lot of people don’t really like science and would prefer to pretend like there’s a really neat distinction.
And I *think* this is where the peculiar fixation on testosterone kicks in, because testosterone is a naturally-occurring hormone which can affect performance.
And it’s *also* something primary schools teach is a difference between boys and girls, which is a nice one for those with poor scientific literacy, because they’ve heard of it and think it’s a clean-cut distinction.
Which it *isn’t*. And it’s fucking ridiculous to suggest that a woman whose testosterone is higher than average must medicate herself in order to compete–just as it’d be ABSURD to suggest a woman with lover than average testosterone should take it.
And yet, here we are. Some women athletes are being penalised for a particular quirk in their bodies which gives them a slight advantage, even though no other particular advantage-giving natural quirks are bans for competing.
Should people who are naturally small and slight be banned from competing in gymnastics? Should people born in mountainous regions be banned from long-distance because of their lung capacity and red blood cells? Of fucking course not.
Testosterone makes a difference in sport performance, as does any of those other little inborn quirks, and when you stack them up, you’ve got an amazing athlete. But it’s preposterous to single out that when there’s so many other advantages top-level athletes have over us.
I know! I know! Maybe athletes who have longer legs than average should have to have an inch or two of shinbone removed before they’re allowed to compete to ensure a level playing field for all!
Swimmers with flexible ankles like Michael Phelps must be forced to wear ankle braces so their ankles only bend the “average” amount!
Basically, it’s ludicrous to single out testosterone. And also gonna assume most of my followers aren’t world class athletes and tell you, it’s OK that you’re not as good as Olympians. They’re genetic mutants.
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