What is Fairness?

On a basic level, “fairness” means equal opportunity. The idea of fairness gets more complicated when personal strengths and weaknesses are added into the equation. It should still be considered fair if one person has a natural advantage over another person, to an extent. In sports, for example, it is fair to separate youth sports teams by age, because generally, athletes that are older are naturally bigger and stronger.

The debate over the fairness of self-identified women athletes who have either some male genitalia, or chromosomes that aren’t XX has existed for years. With major sports separated into female teams and male teams as they are today, there is no clear place to put these athletes in our binary society. The majority of these women athletes in question may only have a slight natural advantage, such as a marginal increase in testosterone, which should be treated the same as an athlete with naturally long legs, as mentioned in Laura Hercher’s article on Olympic gender verification. It would be unfair to discriminate more harshly on one natural occurrence than another.

Hercher, Laura. “Gender Verification: A Term Whose Time Has Come and Gone.” National Society of Genetic Counselors, 8 Sept. 2010.

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