“All we ask is to be allowed to run free, for once and for all, as the strong and fearless women we are and have always been.” – Caster Semenya
This year’s Summer Olympics in Tokyo, which closed on August 8th, featured more out 2SLGBTQI athletes than ever before. However, they were also the first Olympics to take place since World Athletics, which regulates international track and field competitions, decided to bar intersex women with naturally elevated testosterone levels from competing in the women’s category of track events over 400m. The testosterone limit has been referred to as the “Caster Semenya rule” – a reference to the South African two-time Olympic gold medalist and intersex woman Caster Semenya, who has been targeted by the IAAF’s discriminatory rules and invasive “gender testing” since she was a teenager.
Semenya is now taking her case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to argue that the regulations are based on gender and racial discrimination. In order to be allowed to compete, women athletes with naturally high testosterone levels must undergo “humiliating and invasive physical examinations followed by harmful and experimental medical procedures” designed to lower their testosterone levels. They also risk being outed as intersex.
Last month, Egale applied to the ECHR for intervenor status in the case on Semenya’s behalf. Egale has long been a vocal supporter of intersex rights at home and around the world. Most recently, we filed an application at the Ontario Superior Court of Justice to end the practice of ‘normalizing’ aesthetic surgeries on intersex infants and children before they are old enough to consent to surgery.
The term intersex refers to a person whose chromosomal, hormonal, or anatomical sex characteristics fall outside the conventional classifications of male or female.
Helen Kennedy, Executive Director