Don’t Deprive Athletes Born Different of Their Passion and Careers

Target: Sebastian Coe, President of World Athletics

Goal: Lift ban on athletes with Differences of Sexual Development who choose not to undergo hormone treatments.

The European Court of Human Rights has just ruled in favor of a former Olympic champion– Caster Semenya—who claims her most fundamental rights were violated when she was prohibited from further competition in track and field events. Semenya, who was born as and identifies as female, was one of several track athletes who were barred from any competitive event unless they underwent hormone therapy to reduce testosterone levels. While proponents say this rule promotes fairness, critics believe it’s discrimination of the highest order.

The rule targets athletes who have Differences of Sexual Development (DSD): a natural condition wherein biological females have higher levels of testosterone as well as potential chromosomal and genital differences. It affects about 1 in 100 infants. In a ruling that had previously applied to only certain events, World Athletics (which oversees international track and field competition) mandated that DSD athletes could no longer compete in any event unless they took medication to lower testosterone for six months. Ironically (and hypocritically) enough, the organization also banned transgender athletes from competition. So apparently athletes cannot undergo hormone therapy voluntarily for their mental well-being, but they can be forced to undergo hormone therapy to suit the organization’s agenda.

The World Medical Association has slammed this organization’s rules, saying, “we have strong reservations about the ethical validity of these regulations. They are based on weak evidence from a single study, which is currently being widely debated by the scientific community.” Meanwhile, athletes like Semenya are being stripped of their livelihoods and of doing what they love.

Sign the petition below to demand World Athletics reverse course on this discriminatory dictate.


Dear Mr. Coe,

“I am very disappointed by this rule, but refuse to let World Athletics drug me or stop me from being who I am. Excluding female athletes or endangering our health solely because of our natural abilities puts World Athletics on the wrong side of history.” A court recently found that the author of this statement, athlete Caster Semenya, had “credible claims of discrimination as a result of her increased testosterone level caused by differences of sex development.” The World Medical Association has likewise condemned your decision regarding DSD athletes as “based on weak evidence” and lacking “ethical validity.”

What more will it take for this organization to rethink its policy that is harming the reputations, livelihoods, and well-being of athletes who did nothing but be born with a difference? You ban transgender athletes who have undergone hormone treatments while in the same breath forcing other athletes to undergo hormone treatment to alter their natural state. Do you not see the hypocrisy in this stance? At a time when drugging within the athletic sector is such a major issue, you are compelling drugs upon athletes. What’s next…bans on how tall track athletes can be or how much they can weigh, or perhaps wholesale bans on the genes that give many elite athletes a so-called competitive advantage?

Athletics are supposed to represent teamwork, unity, commonality, and the best of humanity. Stop tainting this important legacy. End the discriminatory ban on DSD athletes.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Erik van Leeuwen

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