In the Olympics this year there are two athletes who are widely speculated or known to be intersex. An intersex person has anatomy generally attributed to both men and women.
The first and most widely discussed is Caster Semenya. The South African 800-meter specialist won a silver medal in her event at the 2012 London Olympics and, after a year of some spectacular races, is expected to win gold later this week. There's even talk of her breaking the long-standing 800-meter world record.
Because she is intersex and her natural testosterone levels are likely higher than the average woman, there are screams of unfairness that publications like Sports Illustrated have amplified. In his latest piece for SI, Tim Layden lays about a bunch of nonsensical fear-mongering from people about Semenya, allowing one person to say her advantage is so huge and so unfair that it's like watching the Super Bowl when one team is so much better, you already know the winner.
Of course we've watched Super Bowls when we already "knew the winner." The undefeated New England Patriots taking on the upstart New York Giants comes to mind. And the Peyton-Manning lead Denver Broncos facing a young Seattle Seahawks team a couple years ago reverberates. Oh yeah, both of those automatic winners...lost.
India's Dutee Chand gives a sobering reminder as to why. Chand is the other athlete assumed to be intersex in these Olympic Games. She had been barred from competing in 2014 due to reportedly high testosterone levels. She was reinstated in time to qualify for these Olympics.
This weekend Chand started and finished her 2016 Olympic participation with one heat of the 100-meter. Her time of 11.69 seconds was off her personal best, good enough only for 50th place of the 64 competitors. Her competition is over, unable to get even close to the top 24 who advanced to the semifinal.
Are there calls to test the testosterone levels of the 49 women who beat her? Of course not. Where's the public outcry to test Jamaica's Elaine Thompson, who recorded the second-fastest women's 100-meter Olympic time ever in the final on Saturday? Silence.
Chand's failure to get within a mile of the 100-meter final speaks volumes about Semenya's inherent legitimacy in her event. Being intersex, having a higher-than-normal testosterone level, doesn't give anyone a golden ticket to Olympic gold. Just like Usain Bolt's long legs and Michael Phelps' long arms, any athlete can have a strong advantage over her competitors, but it takes years of hard work and determination to get to the pantheon of their sport.
Regardless of what you believe about Semenya's chromosomes, testosterone or gender, she is where she is because of hard work and determination.
So next time you get all upset about an intersex athlete doing well, or a transgender athlete who might have some semblance, of advantage over some of her competitors, remember Dutee Chand and stop talking out of your depth.