Thursday, August 15, 2013


The situation in Russia concerning the up coming Olympics and their stance against gay people bothers many people. I believe a person’s genes guide their behavior, which causes a great deal of concern from many quarters. There are those who criticize that statement and say that would mean we are devoid of free will; we are genetic robots. There are those who would argue that if that were true we would not be responsible for crimes we commit because we are “acting according to our genes”: rape and kleptomania for example. Others argue that deviant behavior is not inherited it is learned; therefore, can be changed.

I counter these arguments with the thought that we are responsible for what is in our genes no matter how fortunate of unfortunate. They are our genes. While it is clear, we can modify some of our behavior to fit into what people around us call “normal”. The critical factor is do we want to modify what is in our genes. I am a male; I would have no desire to modify my behavior into that of a female. I remember an incident on Oprah Winfrey’s show when she asked a transgender guest why she wanted a sex change operation. The guest responding with a question for Oprah that visible shocked her, “What would you want if you looked down as saw a penis?”

Just like genetic diseases. If we have sickle cell anemia or spinal bifida or Downs syndrome, we handle them as best we can because that is what we are. Genetic or not, we write rules and regulations to protect one-another from harm caused by these differences. Watch MSBC Lockup, TV cameras are brought into prisons and prisoners are interviewed one-on-one. It soon becomes obvious, that our prisons are full of people who have mental problems—whose genes deviate from “normal”. They are different and we can do nothing about it so we lock them up. Of course, there are those in prisons whose behavior is a product of mind-altering drugs.

The International Olympics Committee (IOC) has written rules; some of those rules deal with sex differences. The Olympics are several thousand years old but women completed only relatively recently; the first was in 1900. Nonetheless, women compete against women and men compete against men except in a limited number of non-physical sports and some team sorts. Although there have been gender challenges because of one women complaining about another, there are finally rules concerning sexual identity in IOC rules. The new rules state that medical experts will examine through a blood test the testosterone levels in a woman and will then make a recommendation about whether she would or would not be eligible to compete. An athlete can herself request an evaluation, if during routine urine testing for performance enhancing drugs it is noticed that the athlete has male characteristics, and finally drug testing results reveal abnormal testosterone levels. Of course, athletes can use testosterone as a performance-enhancing drug. Therefore, can males with low levels of testosterone add more to enhance performance?

As so often happens, the solution raises many more questions. What level of testosterone is acceptable to allow a woman to compete against other women? Can a male with low testosterone compete with females? Is it sexist to test only women? Why would they test men for levels of testosterone?

Finally, transgender issues include the matter of sexual preference, which seems where the Russian mindset is in connecting their politics to the Olympics. It is obviously wrong to assume a transgender female, who identifies as a male would be attracted to another male or a transgender female would be attracted to another female because that is not always the case but more importantly, it is no ones  business but “theirs”. The same sex attraction of one athlete to another or to one of their guest or of one guest to another is private; it is personal. It is in their genes therefore it can get no more personal than that.

The big question is, “should the IOC test athletes in the first place if they do not know how to handle the results”. My solution is simple. Have scientist establish normal ranges for testosterone in non-transgender women and men. Men and women qualify for events as males and as females on that basis, if they cannot qualify on that basis, well I am sorry, it is in their genes—they own it—just like a genetic disease, it is their; it is in there genes. If you think my suggestion is too radical, stop and think about it, this approach is exactly what the IOC has done.

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