Sporting officials have invited South African athlete Caster Semenya to compete in male events, after she was blocked from continuing to participate in women’s races.
The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) last week decreed that Semenya must take medication to lower her natural levels of testosterone before being allowed to compete as a woman.
Some news sources have wrongly called her a trans woman or a man.
Now the IAAF has said she is welcome to compete in male events, Times Live has reported.
The organisation claims it is not forcing Semenya to undergo treatment, saying it is “the athlete’s right to decide (in consultation with their medical team) whether or not to proceed with any assessment and/or treatment”.
However, if she does not accept hormone intervention, “she will not be entitled to compete in the female classification of any restricted event at an international competition”.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has admitted the IAAF’s decisions are “discriminatory”, but defended them as “necessary, reasonable and proportionate”.
Semenya said the decisions about intersex athletes have clearly targeted her.
“For a decade the IAAF has tried to slow me down, but this has actually made me stronger,” she said.
“The decision of the CAS will not hold me back. I will once again rise above and continue to inspire young women and athletes in South Africa and around the world.”
Others have raised concerns that Semenya is being targeted as a gay black woman, with many people taking to social media to express their outrage.
“Caster Semenya should be able to compete without being subjected to sex stereotypes that have disproportionately harmed Black women for too long,” tweeted the American Civil Liberties Union.
“This misogynoirist treatment of Caster Semenya is exactly what we mean when we say gender is a form of ongoing colonial violence. A (cis) black woman is being forced to medically alter her body because white colonial standards don’t deem her truly a woman,” posted another person.
Many have contrasted Semenya’s treatment with Michael Phelps, the white swimmer who has been praised for “genetic advantages” including his unusual body proportions and producing far less lactic acid than average.
“White people really hate to lose, especially to black people. If Caster Semenya was white, the praise she’d be getting. Michael Phelps has exceptionally long arms, if he was black, he wouldn’t be fit to swim,” tweeted one commenter.
The controversy over Semenya’s eligibility to compete comes ahead of this month’s International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia.
“Athletes like South Africa's Caster Semenya are welcome to enter men's events if they are not willing to take medicine to lower their testosterone levels.”
— Senthorun Raj ✨ (@senthorun) May 8, 2019
Caster Semenya should be able to compete without being subjected to sex stereotypes that have disproportionately harmed Black women for too long.
Women with high levels of testosterone are and always will be woman enough. Stop policing women's bodies.https://t.co/nahfENKiES
— ACLU (@ACLU) May 1, 2019
Black bodies – particularly Black women’s bodies – continue to be demonized & restrained by white considerations of “normality.” What’s happened to Caster Semenya is why we must fight against all gender-based oppression because we’re all at risk. https://t.co/8YIQTeYeuL
— Raquel Willis (@RaquelWillis_) May 1, 2019
This misogynoirist treatment of Caster Semenya is exactly what we mean when we say gender is a form of ongoing colonial violence.
A (cis) black woman is being forced to medically alter her body because white colonial standards don't deem her truly a woman.
— jelly femme (@holymoley) May 1, 2019
White people really hate to lose, especially to black people. If Caster Semenya was white, the praise she'd be getting. Micheal phelps has exceptionally long arms, if he was black, he wouldn't be fit to swim. White people are a confused race. Give me my spear back pic.twitter.com/KnmtSWHpAv
— 🇺🇬 's Jon Snow 😂 (@TC_Rex_) May 4, 2019
white women's tears endanger the lives and livelihoods of black women.
lynsey sharpe came in 6th in rio, didn't have a piss icicle's chance in hell of winning dust let alone a medal but blamed her failure on caster semenya? Today number #9 #caster800m pic.twitter.com/y6B9zbW7oz
— 𝕷𝖊𝖇𝖔 𝕸𝖆𝖙𝖑𝖆𝖕𝖊𝖓𝖌🇿🇦🐦 (@Junbugstone) May 3, 2019