Debbie Hayton Debbie Hayton

Caster Semenya shouldn’t be able to compete in women’s events

Caster Semenya
Caster Semenya (Photo: Getty)

Who can compete in women’s sports? This week’s decision by the European Court of Human Rights further complicates the debate. Judges in Strasbourg upheld Caster Semenya’s appeal against World Athletics regulations that requited athletes like Semenya to lower their testosterone levels to be allowed to compete with women. The court ruled that those regulations were ‘a source of discrimination’ for Semenya ‘by the manner in which they were exercised and by their effects’, and the regulations were ‘incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights’. 

Let’s be clear, while sports’ governing bodies operate the most stringent of anti-doping measures, it was a bizarre decision to impose a compulsory doping regime on Caster Semenya and other athletes with certain intersex conditions. The drugs used to lower blood testosterone levels are powerful and life changing.  Nobody – in my view – should be required to take drugs to run in a race. 

That does not mean that I think Caster Semenya should be eligible for women’s sports. The issue is not some arbitrary level of blood testosterone, but the intersex condition that Semenya was born with. Semenya is reported to have a specific condition known as 5-alpha-reductase deficiency (46 XY 5-ARD). 

Despite the best efforts of the LGBTQIA+ lobby to drag intersex people under their ever-expanding umbrella, this decision has nothing to do with transgender people like me. Our sexual development is typical for our sex, and – for the avoidance of doubt – my sex is male. We male transsexuals have no business whatsoever competing in sport reserved for the other sex. There should be no ifs, no buts and no arguments to the contrary on that point. 

Intersex conditions – better described perhaps as differences of sexual development – are a totally different issue. There are several dozen different conditions, and they relate to biology rather than psychology.

Already a subscriber? Log in

Keep reading with a free trial

Subscribe and get your first month of online and app access for free. After that it’s just £1 a week.

There’s no commitment, you can cancel any time.


Unlock more articles


Written by
Debbie Hayton

Debbie Hayton is a teacher and journalist. Her book, Transsexual Apostate – My Journey Back to Reality is published by Forum

Topics in this article


Don't miss out

Join the conversation with other Spectator readers. Subscribe to leave a comment.

Already a subscriber? Log in