Transgender athlete rips controversial ruling on Olympic runner Caster Semenya

Transgender advocate and professional athlete Chris Mosier slammed a landmark ruling requiring female athletes such as Olympic champion Caster Semenya with naturally high testosterone levels to take suppressants in order to compete in women’s events during interview that aired on Monday.

“Caster Semenya is a cisgender woman at birth and she has been competing as a woman,” Mosier, told Hill.TV. “Instead of her speed being treated as a gift, it’s being treated as something that is giving her an unfair advantage.”

“The problem is we are setting ourselves up in a position where we are policing and regulating women athletes in sports,” he continued.

Mosier said Semenya, who has been barred from competing and subjected to sex tests, was targeted because she doesn’t conform to preconceived notions of femininity, noting that this has become particularly problematic among female athletes of color.

“We also see this targeting happening much more for black and brown bodies, so people of color are facing a lot more discrimination in sports, specifically women of color in sports than white folks,” he said.

Last week, the Court of Arbitration for Sport upheld a policy by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), which said that some athletes could be banned from certain events unless they took medicine to reduce their testosterone levels.

The court called the IAAF rules “necessary and reasonable,” saying that the regulations “do not infringe any athlete’s rights” but rather preserve “fair and meaningful competition within the female classification.”

The decision dealt a heavy blow to Semenya, a two-time 800 meter Olympic champion who challenged the limits. She argued that the IAAF rule regulating hormone levels was medically unnecessary and “discriminatory, irrational, unjustifiable.”

Mosier said the ruling is not only a human rights violation, but it also lacks medical backing. Female athletes with high levels of testosterone, he said, are considered legally female under IAAF regulations, but considered effectively male when it comes to competitive races.

“The problem with the ruling is we’re saying that there’s only one marker of what makes a man or a woman and that’s strictly testosterone, and we just don’t have the medical backing and the scientific backing to say that that’s true,” he said, adding there shouldn’t be regulations on athletes like Semenya “who has done nothing to alter her body.”

Mosier, who in 2016 became the first transgender man to make a U.S. national team, noted that the recent attention around trans athletes has highlighted the issue for a lot of people.

Transgender athletes are no longer required to undergo gender reassignment surgery in order to compete for the Olympics.

They do, however, face some restrictions. While athletes transitioning from female to male face no restrictions, those transitioning from male to female must suppress their testosterone levels for a year before becoming eligible to participle in the Olympics.

—Tess Bonn