*** DEBUG END ***

Intersex dilemma

23 September 2009


From Emma Laughton

Sir, — Susannah Cornwall (Comment, 18 September) provides valuable information about intersex conditions, and rightly points out that they raise important questions for Christian theology and ethics. But the patronising way she de­scribes the International Asso­ciation of Athletics Federations (IAAF) as “disturbed” by something that is “never simple” is less justified, even though the mishandling of Caster Semenya’s case gave the cruelty of the media a field day.

Sports were segregated by gender long before medical knowledge about intersex became widely avail­able. They are segregated so that both women and men can parti­cipate and win. In many sports, if women were required to compete directly against men, very few would stand a chance, and women’s parti­cipation would collapse. This would be a grave injustice to women, and it would be wrong for this to happen just because some indi­viduals’ bodies “push the demarca­tions”. Segregation may be undesirable in many social spheres, but in sport it does have a defensible rationale.

The IAAF is faced with a real and practical dilemma. In order to participate in segregated sports, a person must be classified male or female. If a person is “wrongly” classified, this is an injustice. What does Ms Cornwall suggest that the IAAF do with people whose “atypical or recalcitrant bodies” are “not unequivocally male [or female]”?

Dolphin House, Dolphin Street
Devon EX24 6NA

Letters to the editor

Letters for publication should be sent to letters@churchtimes.co.uk.

Letters should be exclusive to the Church Times, and include a full postal address. Your name and address will appear alongside your letter.

Top Feature

The Church Times Podcast

Interviews and news analysis from the Church Times team. Listen to this week’s episode online

Welcome to the Church Times

​To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)