Fair and includey

Oh it’s all so complex.

As the first openly transgender female athlete to compete at the Olympics, Laurel Hubbard was making history and huge controversy in the Tokyo International Forum. It certainly looked like the weight of the world was on her shoulders.

If you believe that he really does have gender dysphoria. If you believe he’s just cheating, it looks a bit different.

Hubbard had met all the requirements set by the International Weightlifting Federation, though those rules — requiring athletes to demonstrate their total testosterone level in serum has been below 10 nanomoles per litre for at least 12 months before their first competition — are regarded as wholly inadequate by a battery of sports scientists. At the most basic level, they point out that the normal testosterone range for women is between 0.3 and 2.4 nmol/L.

The most basic level is the one that counts.

Fiddling nervously with a tracksuit top, she made a short speech of gratitude to journalists — an unusually large amount were present for women’s weightlifting — which did serve as a reminder that there is a human story here of an athlete seeking a place in the sporting world, and in the world in general.

Again, only if you believe that he believes all the nonsense, and isn’t just taking advantage. I don’t believe that, so I don’t think that’s the human story here at all. And for that matter even if you believe he believes, you damn well ought to keep in mind the woman he displaced. What about her human story? She not rich or white or male.

Hubbard thanked the IOC for reaffirming “their commitment to the principles of Olympism”, but the organisation could hardly hail this as a triumph as it grapples awkwardly with the science and talks of a shift away from a framework based on testosterone.

There is also the hard reality that it will never please everyone. Fairness and inclusion can never be fully reconciled in this debate.

But the Olympics are all about exclusion. That’s the whole entire point. They’re about the very best, and they exclude everyone else from competing. That’s how athletic competitions work.

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