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Caster Semenya’s life and achievements are cause for celebration, respect and inclusion; her exclusion is consequential
  1. Morgan Carpenter1,2
  1. 1 Intersex Human Rights Australia, Altona, Victoria, Australia
  2. 2 Sydney Health Ethics, The University of Sydney Faculty of Medicine and Health, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Morgan Carpenter, Intersex Human Rights Australia, Altona, VIC 3018, Australia; morgan{at}

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In his paper, Loland1 offers conditional support for 2019 World Athletics (then known as the International Association of Athletics Federations) (‘IAAF’) ‘differences of sex development’ (‘DSD’) regulations,2 upheld that year by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (‘CAS’)3 in the case of Caster Semenya. He states this is conditional due to the ‘systemic and psycho-somatic’ impact of hormonal treatment. Loland also calls for ‘further analysis of the nature of athlete classification’ and identifies some welcome options for reducing the significance of sex classifications in sport.

While Loland identifies ‘essentialist and reductionist definitions of gender’ as problematic, he finds this inescapable, affirming the case as a ‘dilemma of rights’ where excluding Semenya is ‘protecting the integrity of women’s sport’.1 The idea that Semenya’s participation presents a dilemma necessarily presumes that she is not a woman. Loland’s conclusions support a convenience-based approach to classification of sex where choices about the status of people with intersex variations are made by others according to their interests at that time, inter alia, a woman in situation A if no-one complains, a woman in situation B when subjected to medical intervention, a man in situation C and non-binary in D. While a majority decision by CAS adjudicators denied consideration of the ‘wider impact’ of their decision outside sport, …

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  • Contributors This commentary was written by MC.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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