Dvorsky points out the slippery slope in their logic:
While this clearly solves a problem for the IOC, the decision to “treat” athletes with genetic abnormalities will likely have far reaching repercussions for those with other types of genetic endowments. The IOC is in danger of opening a pandora’s box in which virtually every athlete with a biological advantage will be questioned.
Immediate examples include swimmer Michael Phelps with his many advantageous traits (including the possibility of Marfan Syndrome) and those athletes with higher levels of hemoglobin which gives them superior oxygen-carrying capability.
Dvorsky has a point, but it seems he misses the larger problem with the IOC’s recommendation: the assumption that there is anything wrong with the intersex at all. Because of the hysteria and ignorance surrounding intersex individuals, athletic competitions have ignored and mishandled the complexities of the issue instead of addressing them.
As it stands, many sports do benefit from a male/female split due to the general strength and size advantages of males. Gymnastics is my favorite example, where the events themselves are male/female only, tuned to the unique advantages of the sex of the body competing. Intersex individuals become problematic for the regulation of sport because they defeat the purpose of the gender divide. The problem is real, but not because the intersex are “diseased,” but because most sports’ rules are not designed to account for them.
Bioethics is controversial.
No one endorses the ideas or concepts explored here, not even me.
You will develop a strong opinion about something you find here. I want to hear it. Philosophy is a conversation.
popbioethics [at] gmail [dot] com
Long Form ArticlesWhy Mass Effect is the most Important Science Fiction Universe of our Generation