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  1. Xyre » Gender testing for female Olympians

    [...] to Feministe.) Tagsabortion academia alberta america apple arabic arizona arkansas atheism australia [...]

  2. kassidy
    kassidy July 27, 2008 at 8:29 pm |

    thats terrible! and completly unfair! why the hell is this world so annoying

  3. Maz
    Maz July 27, 2008 at 8:54 pm |

    The excerpt from the article doesn’t say psychological anywhere.

  4. L33tminion
    L33tminion July 27, 2008 at 9:00 pm |

    One obvious solution would be to not have men’s and women’s divisions for sports. Have everyone compete on the same field.

  5. Anna
    Anna July 27, 2008 at 9:11 pm |

    It’s Pride week here in Canada’s Ocean Playground (I never tire of saying that – it’s Nova Scotia) and this week has included a lecture series at my local library. Two of the topics discussed were “Homophobia in Sport” & “Gender: Trans or Otherwise”.

    I mistakenly got the impression from the Sports one that they were no longer testing to prove female athletes were genetically female, especially as our science is telling us that XXY, XYY, and other genetic “gender” markers other than our lovely XX and XY exist. (And, as our speaker pointed out, the genetics that make someone female physically but include “male” in the chromosomes don’t really give anyone an advantage -they can’t absorb performance-enhancing drugs and they are infertile. Or so I understood from the talk.)

    She also talked about the OutGames, which is, I suppose, where a transperson would be told they could compete. Seperate but equal has so worked well in the past, right? *sigh*

    “Sport” – profesional or otherwise – seems a very homophobic and unsafe space to me. The lack of Out male athletes in professional sport in NorthAm is very telling to me. I find it statistically unlikely that not one man out of the NFL, CFL, NHL, whatever that acronym for basketball is, probably other sports that I can’t think of right now, but not one of them is queer.

    I don’t know what the answers are. I feel fairly safe in stating that, should transwomen be allowed to compete in women’s olypmic sports some people would start going on about how she had only gone through transitioning to make winning easier. Cuz that’s what it’s all about, I’m sure.

    *sigh*

  6. Flamethorn
    Flamethorn July 27, 2008 at 9:22 pm |

    Yeah, it says physiological. As in pelvic.

  7. PhysioProf
    PhysioProf July 27, 2008 at 9:34 pm |

    Yeah, this sounds a lot more like being about enforcement of gender norms than prevention of cheating.

  8. Sailorman
    Sailorman July 27, 2008 at 9:34 pm |

    You say psychological and refer to physiological… i assume psychological is wrong. you may want to change the initial post.

    I don’t see how having an extra Y chromosome is different from having a gene which gives you a lot of fast twitch muscle fibers and a low body fat percentage. Or having a gene that makes you tall and with really long arms. Or that gives you 20/5 eyesight and a low heart rate. Or that makes you double jointed, or any other gene.

    Genes confer advantages. I mean, if you knock off competitors for “unfair genetic advantage” that’d be most all of the Olympians, no?

  9. Joshua
    Joshua July 27, 2008 at 9:40 pm |

    Okay, when life emulates Futurama, we’re all in trouble.

    The physiological exam as secondary proof really is disgusting. I’d have (overly optimistically, evidently) thought with all that the ISNA and similar groups have done that there’d be some sort of awareness about us not coming in two neat, discrete little packages.

  10. Michelle
    Michelle July 27, 2008 at 10:42 pm |

    Anyone who thinks that someone transitioning to live as a woman is going to have an “advantage” in competitive sport is missing a couple of key points:

    1. The male skeleton is generally heavier than the female skeleton

    2. Hormones change the overall power of the musculature – reducing it for MTF transsexuals.

    While longer legs or arms might provide some minor mechanical advantage, that is more than offset by how transition affects the body’s muscle power. A competitor would have to take an awful lot of ‘vitamin S’ to overcome that (which I believe would be considered cheating in any event!)

  11. Anne
    Anne July 27, 2008 at 11:28 pm |

    Gender test? Damn. I guess whoever can walk better in heels is a woman and those who fall are men?

    As far as testing for sex, on the other hand, I wouldn’t have an objection as long as ALL participants were tested.

  12. Clueless WW
    Clueless WW July 27, 2008 at 11:51 pm |

    I thought this had been standard in the Olympics since the late 60’s. Regardless, tradition is no justification for continuing a useless [based on the grand total of zero found] and insulting practice. Genetic differences and trans issues aside… clearly the only way you can be a world-class athlete is if you bring your own balls to the game?

    @Anne — unfortunately, they’d probably only do it for those girly sports, y’know, gymnastics and ice skating :P

  13. Mercredi
    Mercredi July 28, 2008 at 12:17 am |

    Oh, gods. I’m trying to decide if the current array of tests are worse or better than what they used to do way back when, which was have all the female athletes strip from the waist down and parade in front of a backlit screen.

    There are so many different ways to be intersexed that I can’t even imagine finding an infallible way to define physical sex in all cases, never mind the added complexity of gender.

  14. Hugo
    Hugo July 28, 2008 at 12:21 am |

    I’m old enough to remember that in 1976, they excused one female athlete from gender testing at the Montreal Olympics (the first Summer Games I followed avidly): Princess Anne, who as a royal was essentially immune from having her identity questioned, particulary in a country of the Commonwealth.

  15. Flamethorn
    Flamethorn July 28, 2008 at 12:40 am |

    At least parading in front of a screen doesn’t involve a speculum…? which is a word Firefox doesn’t recognize for some reason.

  16. emigrl
    emigrl July 28, 2008 at 1:51 am |

    i find it amusing that they are worried about some people having genetic advantage over others–after all, virtually all of the athletes who compete at the olympics level are unusually gifted genetically (athletically speaking) compared to an average person.

    i think there was actually a concern that males would masquerade as females to compete in athletics, but that was during the cold war when the communist bloc regarded the number of medals won by their nationals at the olympics as a demonstration of the success of its political ideology, and had enough authoritarian power that it was plausible to fear that they would force male athletes to compete as women.

    by the way, the issue of transsexual athletes has been resolved. starting in 2012, they will be able to compete under a certain criteria.
    http://edition.cnn.com/2004/SPORT/05/17/olympics.transsexual/

  17. emigrl
    emigrl July 28, 2008 at 1:55 am |

    sorry, the new rule for transsexual people came into effect in 2004–read the cnn article. i don’t know how i misremembered.

  18. Farhat
    Farhat July 28, 2008 at 2:13 am |

    One obvious solution would be to not have men’s and women’s divisions for sports. Have everyone compete on the same field.

    This would probably eliminate women completely from Olympics except from things like gymnastics.

  19. C.C.
    C.C. July 28, 2008 at 2:43 am |

    I’d just like to clear up a few misconceptions about how exactly determining biological gender by the means of a blood test actually works and the various genetic anomalies, which are known to exist. The blood test method works by taking a sample of blood and then adding a chemical, which binds to certain sites on the Y chromosome. If binding is discovered, then the person is presumed to be male, as the chemical will only bind to a Y chromosome.

    Now, as I have seen earlier in this thread, some have objected that there may be “abnormalities.” That is indeed the case. Here are the most common abnormalities with respect to the X and Y chromosome: XXY Syndrome (Klinefelter’s Syndrome), XYY Syndrome, XXYY Syndrome, and X Syndrome (Turner’s Syndrome). These are all uncommon with the most common being XXY Syndrome, which occurs in 1/500 male births. XYY Syndrome follows it with 1/1000 male births. None of these would be too much of a problem for the blood test because it is based off of the presence of a Y chromosome, which facilitates the transformation of the physically female fetus into a male.

    Now, there is still the extremely rare possibility of hermaphroditism. This can occur with any set of chromosomes due to a failure of testosterone release in a male fetus.

  20. Nadia
    Nadia July 28, 2008 at 3:12 am |

    The question of transsexual athletes has already been resolved by the IOC for a while now, and I would expect that they simply ignore the results of these tests for those who have gone by the book.

    http://www.womenssportsfoundation.org/Content/Articles/Issues/Title-IX/P/Participation-of-Transsexual-Athletes-in-Womens-Sports.aspx

  21. Julia
    Julia July 28, 2008 at 4:59 am |

    I totally agree with Sailorman. Genetic variation is what makes people performing differently in sports (and other things).
    And, I also agree with Anne, if(!) they want a gender test because they have athletes competing in two groups defined by (genetic) gender, then they need to test everybody. it is unfair and degrading to pick out people by their mere looks.

  22. links for 2008-07-28 « don’t ya wish your girlfriend was smart like me?

    [...] Gender testing for female Olympians from Feministe: b/c gender and physical advantages are all about chromosomes (tags: sports intersex transgender gender) [...]

  23. dananddanica
    dananddanica July 28, 2008 at 6:37 am |

    how should this go? I’m really not sure how to account for intersex people in the olympics. What is the reason the olmypics are split by gender? Men have an advantage in almost every event, even ones like archery where one would think that wouldn’t be so much the case. So if youre going to have any division at all, should there be a 3rd for intersex people? Should they be combined with the men, or the women? I dont know. I do know that people/countries will do a lot of things to win medals at these games. What is the solution here? A better test? No test? Getting rid of separate events all together and just having say the 400, not the mens or womens 400? It would be simplest to my mind to erase all categories but would that be fair?

  24. Chawunky
    Chawunky July 28, 2008 at 7:14 am |

    “One obvious solution would be to not have men’s and women’s divisions for sports. Have everyone compete on the same field.”

    In the past there have been non-gendered Olympic events. Suspiciously, said events tended to get segregated shortly after a woman beat men in a given competition.

  25. Bis
    Bis July 28, 2008 at 8:45 am |

    I agree with L33tminion. Abolish gendered divisions and let everyone compete together. I am sure if this principle was followed throughout the education system within countries girls and women would be competing on equal terms with boys and men much earlier than seems likely at the moment. And if global bodies like the IOC abolished gender divisions it would encourage national and regional bodies to do the same.

  26. Heather
    Heather July 28, 2008 at 8:58 am |

    I’ll have to disagree with the ‘everyone should compete together’ idea for athletics at the Olypmic/World/National level. Men and women do, actually, have different physical abilities when you get to the best of the best of them (aka Olypmic athletes). However, this should not stop men and women from training together. It should also not stop athletics at lower levels from being more intergrated. There are sports in which men and women are fairly equal physically, but there are some sports where size is a huge deal. At ‘amerteur’ levels, the difference aren’t as huge, and this is when girls could get the confidence to train.

    Also, I don’t like these tests at all. While I’ve heard my fair share of ‘she’s a man’ and ‘shim’ jokes thrown around about women athletes, actually testing for sex is humiliating to the women. If it’s going to be that way, test the men, too. Also, I don’t even want to know what shameful thing the IOC will do with trans people.

  27. Zoe Brain
    Zoe Brain July 28, 2008 at 9:19 am |

    Note that no such testing was performed in Sydney in 2000.

    From http://christielee.net/med9.htm

    ” Indeed, by the time of the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta, essentially all of the relevant professional societies had endorsed resolutions that called for elimination of gender verification, including the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Physicians, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the Endocrine Society, the Lawson Wilkins Pediatric Endocrine Society, and the American Society of Human Genetics. It was argued that the current clothing used in athletic competition, as well as the requirement that urine for doping control be voided under direct supervision, made it virtually certain that male impostors could not escape detection; furthermore, gender verification procedures are complex, expensive, and counterproductive.

    Still, it was not until the IOC’s Athletes’ Commission called for discontinuation of the IOC system of gender verification that the IOC’s executive board, at its June 1999 meeting in Seoul, decided to discontinue the practice on a trial basis at the forthcoming summer Olympic games in Sydney. The proposal by the Athletes’ Commission, similar to the IAAF plan that has been in place for track and field since the early 1990s, permits intervention and evaluation of individual athletes by appropriate medical personnel if there is any question regarding gender identity. Since the IAAF policies were instituted in 1992, this has never been invoked, nor is it likely to be in Sydney under the circumstances described above, especially because of the requirement for freshly voided urine for doping testing. I truly hope that the IOC’s decision will become permanent with the conclusion of the Sydney games and that laboratory verification of the gender of female athletes will reside in the historical chronicles of the Olympic Games together with competition in the nude of their ancient male predecessors.”

  28. Sailorman
    Sailorman July 28, 2008 at 9:22 am |

    If all Olympic events were nongendered, the percentage of women who would medal would go way, way, way down. Same with college sports and college athletes; title IX exists for a reason. It’s just a size issue.

    Sports where average size is essentially irrelevant are open to women competing. I have had my butt handed to me numerous times by women at regattas, in sailing classes where weight is irrelevant. Most college and high school teams are “women” and “coed;” skilled female skippers are highly sought after as they tend to balance dinghies better. There are coed sailing classes in the Olympics, for example. There are also coed shooting and equestrian classes, I think.

    However, size is an issue in many sports. Even some sailing classes are very weight specific: Across a wide range of wind there are very few women who could beat me in a Finn (Finns are overpowered and Finn sailors are huge; the minimum tends to be 6′ and 175lbs) and almost every woman would beat me in an Optimist, where I would be overweight and slow.

    I would not be personally bothered by playing against women in every sport I play. In most cases–the exception being lacrosse–I already do. But from a personal level I hope my daughters continue to have womens sports available to them if they choose to play certain sports. NOT because they need to be protected from men, but because I want them to have their practice and dedication pay off by winning, without the frustration of losing all the rebounds to some gangly 6’4 16 year old who just started playing last month..

  29. MsM
    MsM July 28, 2008 at 9:26 am |

    There have been others before 1967. There was the incredibly sad story of Foekje Dillema, a very talented runner who was surely on her way to challenge four-times Olympic champion Blankers-Koen in 1950, when she set a record that was subsequently erased from all the books after being forced into a gender test. Others had been forced to be tested along with her, allegedly to put up some kind of smokescreen for Dillema being the real target. Some later testified on it being a humiliating and demeaning experience. In the end the testers determined Dillema to have had ‘unnaturally high testosterone levels’ – though tests certainly didn’t involve only a blood test, but also the physiological exam – and while already on her way to the World Chamionships she was told she was banned for life from competitions and thrown off the train. After that she retreated from all public life. She didn’t leave her house for at least year and lived very quietly. She’s always refused to comment on the case. She died last year. Only days after her death she was reinstated, something she’d never wished for because she wanted nothing to do with the organization that offended and humiliated her.

    Official test results from 1950 have never been published or found. Also, there are strong suggestions that it was Blankers and her husband who pushed for Dillema to be tested. There’d been no doubt about Dillema’s gender before.

    After her death, her family agreed to a DNA-test, the results of which were published a few days ago. Dillema was found to have had a genetic mosaic of XX and XY chromosomes, the XX chromosomes being in a vast majority, and she was proclaimed to have been a woman. [news article]

  30. Zoe Brain
    Zoe Brain July 28, 2008 at 9:27 am |

    From http://ai.eecs.umich.edu/people/conway/TS/News/PFC%20News/1-06-07.hmtl.htm

    In 2004 the IOC allowed athletes who have undergone sex reassignment to
    compete in elite level sports.

    Some of the conditions imposed include: athletes having to wait for two
    years after surgery to compete; and legal recognition of their assigned
    sex.

  31. MsM
    MsM July 28, 2008 at 9:45 am |

    Genes confer advantages. I mean, if you knock off competitors for “unfair genetic advantage” that’d be most all of the Olympians, no?

    Agreed, Sailorman. I would’ve thought that we were done with these practices.

  32. Zoe Brain
    Zoe Brain July 28, 2008 at 10:01 am |

    My comment at the NYT:

    I’ll just give a examples of a few of the many Intersexed conditions that make the situation difficult.

    Swyer Syndrome females have 46xy (male) chromosomes, but can bear children using donated eggs.

    The most common form of Kleinfelter syndrome is 47xxy and usually results in a male body. But a defective SrY chromosome can lead to a normally fertile woman.

    There are mosaics, with both 46xy and 46xx cell lines (and often 45x and 47xxy as well).

    CAIS leads to a 46xy female with no internal genitalia, and a shortened vagina.

    CAH can lead to a 46xx male without testes, but otherwise exactly the same as other men in build.

    There are 46xx men with translocated SrY complexes, some of them can be biological fathers despite being genetically female. There are 46xy women with defective SrY complexes who can bear children.

    People with mixed gonadal dysgenesis may have both testicular and ovarian organs, and ambiguous genitalia, regardless of chromosomes.

    The International Olympic Committee after having examined the evidence, will allow transsexual people to compete in their affirmed gender after being on 2 years of hormones. That not only deletes all advantages they may have had from their original body form, but actually handicaps them slightly compared to those who are cis-sexual (not trans-sexual). Individual Olympic Committees may not be so scientifically literate, and may rely on religious or cultural not medical principles.

    If the Chinese “sex tests” are handled correctly… then first would be an exam to see if there are gross anatomical anomalies. If not, then the competitor passes. If there are anatomical anomalies, then there could be tests of karyotype (chromosomes), presence or absence of SrY complex, testosterone levels, oestrogen levels, sex hormone binding globulin levels, and possibly thyroid, adrenal and cortisol levels too. No one test, or combination of tests, can really help, you need the lot. They will easily pick out any normal male masquerading as female, but differentiating that from some Intersex conditions could be difficult. For example, 46xy people with 5ARD or 17BHDD are born looking female, but naturally masculinise later.

    For what it’s worth – in 1985 I was diagnosed as a male with AIS (androgen insensitivity). In 2005 this was changed to “severely androgenised woman”, on the basis of new tests and some somatic change. For people like me though, “male” or “female” have to be regarded as approximations, not absolutes.

  33. Spook & Muffin’s Relaxed Politics » Blog Archive » Olympic Gender Testing

    [...] Gender testing for female Olympians from Feministe by Sam [...]

  34. Ms. Anon
    Ms. Anon July 28, 2008 at 10:59 am |

    I, personally, blame the Nazis for this.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dora_Ratjen

    Of course, poor Ratjen only placed fourth…

  35. hypatia
    hypatia July 28, 2008 at 11:37 am |

    “In the past there have been non-gendered Olympic events. Suspiciously, said events tended to get segregated shortly after a woman beat men in a given competition.”

    Um… what? There are non-gendered events now. All the equestrian events are open, as well as several sailing groups. They are separating some sailing groups but women weren’t winning in those groups (all the medals were quite dominated by males). The only sport I can find that even kind of follows that example are the shooting events, pretty slim for some wide based conspiracy.

    Some gender divisions have to exist in sport. In physical sports such as wrestling and boxing you would end up with a bunch of severely beaten women. Although it would be nice to have that idealistic, everybody competes together attitude; realistically you would just be removing women from the upper echelon of sport. In many events women wouldn’t even be able to qualify for the Olympics

    I would say that if these guidelines the IOC have given for transgendered individuals are actually followed they are about as fair as they can get. Even though someone who is transgendered is not doing so for a sporting advantage, they will still get an advantage or disadvantage if they start their hormones two months before the Olympic tryouts.

  36. Ambiguous
    Ambiguous July 28, 2008 at 12:23 pm |

    Professional/olympic sports should not be fully integrated and do away with gendered competition, unless you want to see women virtually disappear from competitive professional sports (other than, perhaps, horse racing, race car driving, diving). Virtually no woman in the world can compete with males in event like boxing, baseball, swimming, basketball, football, soccer, etc. The physical advantages are just too overwhelming there.

    With that in mind, gender testing *does* make sense, and actually benefits women. Maybe there should be a more accomodating way of doing this, but it isn’t necessarily just “reinforcing gender norms” or anything of the sort – it’s preventing certain less scupulous countries and teams from basically dressing up a great-but-not-quite-olympian guy and making him compete against women – unfairly depriving women of their chance to excel in athletics.

  37. passerby
    passerby July 28, 2008 at 1:23 pm |

    I agree with the suggestion for removing gender divisions entirely. So what if it means some sports come to be dominated by one gender? Why is that a problem? (And women probably would compete, possibly even dominate in quite a few sports, I believe they are at least equal in marathon running for example).

    Saying we need divisions because those whose genes make them female would be at a disadvantage is daft, because the very nature of most sports puts some people at a disadvantage because of their genes. Why is division by gender any more sensible than division by any other genetic trait? A big proportion of variance in sporting performance is down to genetics. Why single out sex difference for special treatment?

    Actually, I think the underlying reason for all these dilemmas, sex testing, drug testing, able-bodied people pretending to be disabled in the paraolympics etc, is the problem that the whole concept of high-level competitive sport, particularly the Olympics, is inherently silly. We create an entirely arbitrary system of competition for doing something that serves no practical purpose, confer huge status on the ‘winners’ and then tie ourselves up in knots arguing over exactly what arbitrary set of rules they should compete under.

    The correct solution would be to stop pretending it really matters that much if one person can run 100m 0.001 of a second faster than another and simply scrap the jamboree of corruption, nationalism, unhealthy obsessiveness and environmental destruction that is the Olympics

    Sport should be for normal people to get some exercise, not for an elite few to devote their lives to a pointless search for ‘glory’.

  38. feynmanrules
    feynmanrules July 28, 2008 at 3:29 pm |

    The marathon was mentioned as a sport that women have reached competitive equality. However, the 2004 Athens Women’s marathon champion finished in 2:26.20 which would have placed 63rd in the men’s marathon. Last year’s NYC marathon women’s winner, and world record holder, Paula Radcliffe, finished 17th overall. The difference between the men’s world record and women’s world record is currently 10:59.

    In shorter distances the disparity is also quite large. The men’s 100m Olympic ‘A’ qualifying time is 10.21 which is much faster than the 10.49 women’s world record (set in 1988 by Griffith-Joyner), and is far beyond what the current world champion, Veronica Campbell, ran at the world championships last year: 11.01. The men’s world record is 9.72. This pattern is roughly continuous through all distances and all field events.

    At this time having open competition would make the Olympics almost exclusively male. The finals of all track and swimming events would be comprised of only men, with a few women in the marathon but not threatening to medal. Having open competition would also take away many women’s ability to attend college on athletic scholarships which would disproportionately affect lower income and minority women.

  39. Farhat
    Farhat July 28, 2008 at 3:32 pm |

    I suspect within a decade genetic engineering would allow us to breed superathletes and a decade or two later they would start showing up in competitive sports and all this talk will seem so quaint at that point.

  40. hypatia
    hypatia July 28, 2008 at 4:15 pm |

    “Why is that a problem? (And women probably would compete, possibly even dominate in quite a few sports, I believe they are at least equal in marathon running for example).”

    Not even close. The fastest womens time is eleven minutes off the top mens time.

    The problem is that without divisions for women, is that not only would the presence of women at many top levels cease to exist but women would be removed from the sport in general. We don’t give funding to athletes who don’t compete at top levels, and would remove the option for women to devote their lives to sport.

    “The correct solution would be to stop pretending it really matters that much if one person can run 100m 0.001 of a second faster than another and simply scrap the jamboree of corruption, nationalism, unhealthy obsessiveness and environmental destruction that is the Olympics”

    All of which has nothing to do with the athlete… solution… let’s punish the athlete. Interesting… you obviously didn’t enjoy your gym class.

    Although you may not, a good portion of people enjoy sport, and not because it’s good for cardio-vascular health. (In fact if you tell the kids to play for their health you might quite effectively discourage them.) They like it because it’s fun, a good release of energy and competitive. A lot of people like competition and something like the Olympics is the natural manifestation of this.

    “Sport should be for normal people to get some exercise, not for an elite few to devote their lives to a pointless search for ‘glory’.”

    And what in life is not pointless, in the grand scale? Truth is most of it is pointless, whether you’re an athlete, a bank teller, or a high powered executive, so why pick on the athlete?

  41. Dana
    Dana July 28, 2008 at 4:16 pm |

    I’ll have to disagree with the ‘everyone should compete together’ idea for athletics at the Olypmic/World/National level. Men and women do, actually, have different physical abilities when you get to the best of the best of them (aka Olypmic athletes). However, this should not stop men and women from training together. It should also not stop athletics at lower levels from being more intergrated. There are sports in which men and women are fairly equal physically, but there are some sports where size is a huge deal. At ‘amerteur’ levels, the difference aren’t as huge, and this is when girls could get the confidence to train.

    What she(?) said. At the Olympics it is highly unlikely women could compete with men in most sports. On lower levels I think it could help up some people’s game. Depends entirely on the sport of course

  42. Dilan Esper
    Dilan Esper July 28, 2008 at 6:23 pm |

    The reality is that many Olympic sports are among the few areas where sex still matters, in that at least in some sports, the highest level women cannot compete with the highest level men. The world record in the women’s 100 meters is 10.49 seconds, which was and is considered incredibly fast (so fast that many people assume that Florence Griffith-Joyner was doping) and yet is not even good enough to compete with the best collegiate men’s 100 meter runners, much less the world class runners who regularly break 10 seconds and sometimes break 9.8.

    So if you want women to compete, you have to have a definition of what “women” are. I suspect that the commenters above are right that it would be very difficult for transgendered men to compete as women and win (because of the hormones they take), and there’s no real evidence of it happening. (If men did start doing this, though, we would need a test.)

    Intersex individuals, however, are a very complicated subject, and since we need a definition of “men” and “women” for purposes of these competitions (or else women will simply be excluded), the normal and usually correct response that gender is a social construct and that intersex individuals reflect the bankruptcy of our binary conception of gender doesn’t exactly work here.

    There’s no answer here that will (1) ensure that women fully compete in the Olympics in proportionate numbers; and (2) not draw some arbitrary lines as to what constitutes a “woman”.

  43. Holly
    Holly July 28, 2008 at 7:26 pm |

    There are certainly physical differences between people that have to be taken into consideration when you’re determining a competitive field for a physical sport. However, these differences don’t always run along gender lines!! Ever heard of weight classes for say, boxing? There are other ways of dividing people that pay heed to the fact that there’s a huge amount of overlap between male and female populations when it comes to things like weight and height and strength. Not all men are taller, heavier, and stronger than all women; it’s just a matter of averages.

    The other big difference, if you ask me, is in what kind of chemical compounds are pumping through people’s veins as they train, build muscle, and compete with each other. Most men have a significantly higher level of testosterone in their bloodstream than most women, and have since puberty — why do you think men tend to be taller and stronger and so forth, on average? It’s the testosterone, the natural, normal, common form of doping. Testosterone is essentially a steroid; injecting more of it into you is considered doping. So if there are rules against doping, then it also makes sense that you can divide athletes who are running on high levels of testosterone from athletes who are running on lower levels. Even so, there’s a huge amount of natural variation in the testosterone levels of individual men and of individual women. And athletes tend to have higher levels across the board. In any case, the IOC has already set guidelines related to this, when it comes to transsexual athletes, who have to show that they’ve been solely on one regimen of hormones, one similar to their competitors, for at least a certain number of years before they’re allowed to compete.

  44. Chinmusician
    Chinmusician July 29, 2008 at 3:36 am |

    All this talk about levelling the playing field within different sports, out of a sense of fairness. More and more subdivisions so those with better genetic gifts can be segregated from the lesser gifted….. Please, can we have just one arena in life where we can marvel at the performance, dedication and heart of the best of the best? Without all the egalitarian hand wringing?

    We need the respite.

    OK, keep the weight classes in boxing…everyone knows the bantamweight champ will get his or her clock cleaned by the heavyweight gold winner… probably.

  45. Olympics, Gender Testing « Mangled Guts Pretending

    [...] decide to strip intersex athletes of their medals because they fail “gender testing”.  Feministe (sorry, I’m a few days late on this one) presents a great article on the issue of intersex [...]

  46. hypatia
    hypatia July 29, 2008 at 10:43 am |

    “There are other ways of dividing people that pay heed to the fact that there’s a huge amount of overlap between male and female populations when it comes to things like weight and height and strength. Not all men are taller, heavier, and stronger than all women; it’s just a matter of averages.”

    There are plenty of women stronger then men but once you add that level of intense training, men are going to win out, especially when you compare equal weight classes.

    Judging simply on levels of testosterone can fall short as well. First off they fluctuate over time. A forty year old man may having increasingly lower levels but they have still had the advantage of 25 years of testosterone building their muscles. Also high levels of testosterone doesn’t mean you are necessarily getting any advantages. Take women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) for example, it causes elevated levels of testosterone but instead acting normally, the testosterone starts affecting your insulin levels causing you to gain weight and raising your chances of diabetes.

  47. William
    William July 29, 2008 at 10:43 am |

    I suspect within a decade genetic engineering would allow us to breed superathletes and a decade or two later they would start showing up in competitive sports and all this talk will seem so quaint at that point.

    We’re already there. The reality is that professional sports is rife with performance enhancement, much of which is virtually undetectable. There are whole classes of steroids which leave the body within a day or two, HGH, high tech training techniques, computer movement analysis, Speedos made by scientists to have the least possible drag, and the various drugs that would be in an athlete’s system during competition are always one step ahead of the available tests.

    Quibbling over a chromosome here or there is quaint, and thats why it’s a problem. Its an irrelevant, offensive, invasive question to be asked because it seeks to prevent something that is virtually unknown (men posing as women for a competitive advantage) at the expense of the dignity of women.

  48. dananddanica
    dananddanica July 29, 2008 at 12:32 pm |

    will be interesting to see how this works out at this years games and in 2012. I’m also highly interested in how they will treat people with prosthetics/artificial parts, already some rumbling being made by that and I think it will become much more the hot topic by 2012. Men and women do have to be separated at the highest levels, seems we just have to accept that and the strict definition of male and female or we deal with the alternatives mentioned in this thread, basically the end of title IX. That being said, having a coed team and a female team for one sport, whether intramural or varsity at any institution has never sat quite right with me, not sure how to deal with that.

  49. Nicole
    Nicole July 29, 2008 at 1:04 pm |

    “So if you want women to compete, you have to have a definition of what “women” are. I suspect that the commenters above are right that it would be very difficult for transgendered men to compete as women and win (because of the hormones they take), and there’s no real evidence of it happening. (If men did start doing this, though, we would need a test.)”

    Transgender men = Female to Male. Well in the context of transsexuals at least. Trans men would probably do pretty well with all of their T. XD

    It seems it is assumed that trans women either win because they are “really men” or lose because of the hormones.

    As an trans athlete the rules that govern fairness for trans women in sports, kinda sucks. If you are on hormones, your genitals don’t do much but add 4 ounces of weight and a greater likely hood to be hurt it seems. I get the desire to want to make sure they are hormonally but I would rather they just do a blood test since it seems they test anyways. It can be pretty easy to just see if a person has been on estrogen awhile.

    http://www.pfc.org.uk/files/A_Six_Minute_Difference.pdf This is an interesting article about a trans woman’s athletic ability as she transitioned. Now I will quit rambling.

  50. William
    William July 29, 2008 at 2:34 pm |

    will be interesting to see how this works out at this years games and in 2012. I’m also highly interested in how they will treat people with prosthetics/artificial parts, already some rumbling being made by that and I think it will become much more the hot topic by 2012. Men and women do have to be separated at the highest levels, seems we just have to accept that and the strict definition of male and female or we deal with the alternatives mentioned in this thread, basically the end of title IX. That being said, having a coed team and a female team for one sport, whether intramural or varsity at any institution has never sat quite right with me, not sure how to deal with that.

    I’m not sure it has to be as extreme as all that. I think gender divisions (and, eventually, prosthetics) come down to competitive advantage. If theres no competitive advantage, theres no reason for a division. If there is, you build one. I mean, really, gender divisions are like weight classes. An elite level middleweight boxer simply isn’t going to be able to compete with an elite level super heavyweight (or, likely, even a simply skilled super heavyweight), but a bout between two middle weights requires a different set of skills than a bout between two super heavyweights. Women tend to be smaller, have less muscle mass, a different center of gravity, and have less dense bones then men. That doesn’t mean they’re less qualified for competition, it simply means that the skill sets they bring to a sport are going to be different. To continue the boxing analogy: watching a middleweight match tends to be a lot more exciting than watch a heavyweight one simply because the middleweights are faster, more agile, and have far more endurance than the heavyweights.

    I suppose if there was a problem with men posing as women in order to medal you might need to accept strict gender definitions, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. We haven’t even seen a case of someone with ambiguous genetic gender being dominant, so policing the gender divisions seems unnecessary.

  51. Dilan Esper
    Dilan Esper July 29, 2008 at 5:23 pm |

    To be clear (yes, I was being a little inartful), yes, I was referring to men transitioning to women and then competing against women. I suspect that if this were really a problem, we’d be hearing about it and that the commenters are right that the hormones prevent people from doing this and having an advantage. If there were a scenario where people were really doing this and succeeding, these individuals would be women in the transgendered sense but might end up being considered men by sports officials.

    Intersex is where the action is, and as I said, I see no alternative to drawing some sort of arbitrary line as to which intersex individuals are “male” and which are “female”.

  52. Holly
    Holly July 29, 2008 at 5:36 pm |

    If there were a scenario where people were really doing this and succeeding, these individuals would be women in the transgendered sense but might end up being considered men by sports officials.

    Oh this is definitely already happening, has been happening, was protested and then the protests died down. Obviously, it’s still not about some random guy “pretending to be a woman” so he can get a competitive advantage. It’s about trans people who take up athletic competition — at an elite level where there’s money and glory at stake, too. There’s a lot of information out there about Michelle Dumaresq and the obstacles she’s faced (and the physical differences before and after her transition) if anyone wants more.

  53. William
    William July 29, 2008 at 6:53 pm |

    Intersex is where the action is, and as I said, I see no alternative to drawing some sort of arbitrary line as to which intersex individuals are “male” and which are “female”.

    At the risk of sounding somewhat dismissive, why bother drawing the line? Elite level athletes are extremely rare, intersexed people are extremely rare, even if you consider the sheer number of people on earth the number of individuals who fall in the overlap is going to infinitesimal. Do we really need to develop a complicated system of blood tests and standards for everything? Take the athletes at their words. If a guy pretends to be a woman it will eventually come out and he’ll be stripped of his medals, but short of a wig falling off and a driver’s license showing him with a handlebar mustache wearing a shirt that says “I’m totally gonna pretend to be a chick in the Olympics” I just don’t see what the big deal here is.

    Lets be clear here. It’s never happened. Why go through the bullshit of building and implementing a protocol for something that doesn’t have a precedent in history? Until proven otherwise and even then only with the intent to defraud, a man is a man if he says he’s a man and a woman is a woman if she says she’s a woman.

  54. Holly
    Holly July 29, 2008 at 7:14 pm |

    Elite level athletes are extremely rare, intersexed people are extremely rare, even if you consider the sheer number of people on earth the number of individuals who fall in the overlap is going to infinitesimal.

    Did you read the OP and the links? 1 out of 500 athletes screened are “chromosomally abnormal” in genetic screening, which means they have some variety of intersex condition. Now, what this means is incredibly varied, because for many people with “chromosomal abnormalities” it doesn’t make their body that much different than other people.

    Lets be clear here. It’s never happened. Why go through the bullshit of building and implementing a protocol for something that doesn’t have a precedent in history?

    There are quite a few instances of female athletes being “caught” by gender screening protocols of one sort or another. I can’t find the link right now, but there was an about.com site that had a whole history of sporting and gender screening, with stories of quite a few intersex athletes. As for other protocols, the IOC implemented protocols for transsexual athletes because there are, in fact, transsexual athletes who want to compete in the Olympics. None of them have come forth, but Michelle Dumaresq — a transsexual athlete who competes at an elite level, albeit not in the Olympics — has said in interviews that she’s been hearing more and more of them since the controversy over her downhill biking wins put a spotlight on her.

    I agree with you in principle about “take people at their word.” But we don’t do that for doping, obviously, and having different hormones in your system than your competitors is a form of doping, no?

  55. Elizabeth Stanton
    Elizabeth Stanton July 29, 2008 at 10:38 pm |

    There are two things I have to say – as one person said earlier, if men and women are talented enough, allow them to participate together. You can still have same sex competition but all athletes who are capable should play together. What we don’t think about is why are there same sex competitions in games that don’t have anything to do with what sex you are…..shooting a gun/pistol is not a gender specific sport but they are separated by gender. It is just too hard to think (and it has happened) women could be better than the guys. The only Olympic sport where gender is mixed are the equestrian events. Why? Because, or so they say, it is about the horse not the person riding it. Right, men don’t lose to women, their horses lose to each other. Secondly, why is that only women are sex tested – to me, that is a huge injustice. How great would it be for one of our trangendered males to best the other guys – it’ll happen some day.

  56. William
    William July 29, 2008 at 11:09 pm |

    Did you read the OP and the links? 1 out of 500 athletes screened are “chromosomally abnormal” in genetic screening, which means they have some variety of intersex condition. Now, what this means is incredibly varied, because for many people with “chromosomal abnormalities” it doesn’t make their body that much different than other people.

    So for the games in Athens were talking about roughly 22 athletes with some kind of genetic variance beyond XX or XY. My point was that this is a tiny handful of people, virtually all of whom will have no competitive advantage, and none of whom are trying to defraud anyone. All the testing does is humiliate people, and undermine their own assertions of their gender, in order to prevent a nonexistent problem. Men aren’t masquerading as women to win medals, they never have, so why put female competitors through this kind of humiliating screening? The entire exercise is ridiculous.

    There are quite a few instances of female athletes being “caught” by gender screening protocols of one sort or another.

    Right, but in every case I’ve ever heard of it was a woman (who identified as a woman) who had some kind of genetic or physical abnormality, not a man pretending to be a woman. That tells me that the screening is unnecessary.

    I agree with you in principle about “take people at their word.” But we don’t do that for doping, obviously, and having different hormones in your system than your competitors is a form of doping, no?

    Well, I’m not a big fan of anti-doping protocols, but thats beside the point. Should a man whose body naturally produces more testosterone be banned from competition? Should a woman who has yet to fully enter puberty be banned from gymnastics competitions? Should a boxer whose natural frame and build is three standard deviations from the mean be told to go because his genetic predisposition gives him an unfair advantage? No, of course not. I’m never going to be an Olympic athlete, no matter how hard I train. Its simply not going to happen. Olympic athletes are a combination of genetic gifts, intense training, and incredible personal dedication. If you take any one of those factors away you get someone who doesn’t make it to the Olympics. Taking people to task because their natural genetic variation falls outside of some arbitrary standard (especially when that standard is something as fluid as gender) seems to be ridiculous at best and cruel at worst.

    And thats before you consider that there isn’t much in the way of evidence that intersex or fully transitioned transexual individuals have any competitive advantage whatsoever. Dumaresq lost 30 pounds and three inches by the time she completed her transition, and her testosterone levels are well within the normal range. Seems like a lot of effort to soothe an imaginary fear, you know?

  57. dananddanica
    dananddanica July 30, 2008 at 12:28 am |

    elizabeth,
    The only reason I can see for them not testing males is that there is no advantage to it, perhaps an intersex person could win a gold in the 100m but I would doubt it as if their chemistry didnt endow them with the genetic ability to have insane amounts of efficient fast twitch muscles they wouldnt stand a chance. I think there is some feeling that some folks dont want to see men lose to women but at the end of the day, for most olympic games thats simply not a possibility, certainly not in the track and field events or swimming, boxing, basketball and so on. I can’t wait until the womens events at the olympics/trials have a lot more depth. That would mean more women worldwide are free to play, not just in the West and would signal a great many things had changed. Hope to see that one day.

    William- I am a huge boxing fan and I do find heavyweight fights just as interesting as any other class, just seems to be a dearth of real boxers the last 5 or so years in that class. I don’t see gender divisions as equal to weight classes as there is more difference between an elite male athlete and an elite female athlete than between 2 elite male athletes whose weights differ by say 30 pounds.

  58. catfood
    catfood July 30, 2008 at 7:32 am |

    I’d just like to clear up a few misconceptions about how exactly determining biological gender by the means of a blood test actually works and the various genetic anomalies, which are known to exist. The blood test method works by taking a sample of blood and then adding a chemical, which binds to certain sites on the Y chromosome. If binding is discovered, then the person is presumed to be male, as the chemical will only bind to a Y chromosome.

    Which would also rule out, for example, cis-women whose blood cells happen to contain Y chromosomes because they received a bone marrow transplant from a male.

  59. William
    William July 30, 2008 at 10:07 am |

    I am a huge boxing fan and I do find heavyweight fights just as interesting as any other class, just seems to be a dearth of real boxers the last 5 or so years in that class. I don’t see gender divisions as equal to weight classes as there is more difference between an elite male athlete and an elite female athlete than between 2 elite male athletes whose weights differ by say 30 pounds.

    You’re right, they aren’t quite equal, but I think we’re in the same general territory. What I was trying to say was that changing the system so that only men (or heavyweights) could compete would really be detrimental to many sports. A welterweight boxer isn’t just a scaled down heavyweight, they’re a fighter with a different set of skills and techniques who fights a different kind of match that is just as interesting as the big bruisers. The same is true of female competitors.

    You’re right though, heavyweight bouts can be just as interesting, but I tend to like the lighter weight classes because they have to be better. A guy like Nikolai Valuev can stumble his way to the top of a heavyweight division by sheer size and raw power, but someone in the middleweight division is going to have to focus on skill because he will almost always be more evenly matched (De La Hoya is a good example).

  60. Farhat
    Farhat July 30, 2008 at 2:36 pm |

    Which would also rule out, for example, cis-women whose blood cells happen to contain Y chromosomes because they received a bone marrow transplant from a male.

    Probably. There have been cases where people who were chimeras (cells from 2 different zygotes) could be declared either male or female depending on which body part you are taking the DNA from.

  61. Farhat
    Farhat July 30, 2008 at 2:45 pm |

    Lets be clear here. It’s never happened. Why go through the bullshit of building and implementing a protocol for something that doesn’t have a precedent in history? Until proven otherwise and even then only with the intent to defraud, a man is a man if he says he’s a man and a woman is a woman if she says she’s a woman.

    Not only has it happened, there have been athletes whose medals have been stripped decades after being awarded because an unrelated incident showed the athlete was intersex.

  62. William
    William July 30, 2008 at 4:00 pm |

    Not only has it happened, there have been athletes whose medals have been stripped decades after being awarded because an unrelated incident showed the athlete was intersex.

    I think you might have misunderstood what I was saying. There has never been a man who pretended to be a woman in order to gain a competitive advantage at the Olympics. Never, not one. There have been women who have been stripped of medals because their chromosomes or genitals don’t conform to the standard binary conception of gender. But these weren’t people who were being dishonest or attempting to gain an unfair competitive advantage, they were just women who happened to not fit an arbitrary standard of what a woman is.

    Developing a protocol for figuring out what constitutes a woman pretty much guarantees that another woman, at some point in the future, will have to go through the same bullshit and lose her medals because she didn’t fit the standard outlined in the protocol. Moreover, it will subject all women (in particular those who don’t conform to conventional beauty standards) to invasive exams in order to prove they’re women. I think thats obscene. It is especially obscene given that the protocol is being developed (and inflicted upon women) in order to police a problem that has never happened. Men don’t pretend to be women to gain a competitive advantage, it simply isn’t a concern that justifies the invasion of privacy that ANY protocol for determining gender (outside of the individual in question’s assertion) would mean.

    tl;dr: A woman is a person who considers themselves to be a woman, a man is a person who considers themselves to be a man. The end.

  63. Farhat
    Farhat July 31, 2008 at 12:00 am |

    tl;dr: A woman is a person who considers themselves to be a woman, a man is a person who considers themselves to be a man. The end.

    If we did apply that standard you could probably eliminate most women in professional sports. Also, how’d you feel about prisoners like rapists choosing to be women to get into a woman’s prison?

  64. William
    William July 31, 2008 at 4:01 pm |

    If we did apply that standard you could probably eliminate most women in professional sports. Also, how’d you feel about prisoners like rapists choosing to be women to get into a woman’s prison?

    Interesting straw man you brought up there with the prison thing, but I’ll get to that.

    I doubt you’d eliminate women from professional sports by simply accepting women who identify as women to be…women. Why? Because men aren’t exactly tripping over each other to pose as women so they can win medals. I can think of one example in which there might have been a man who posed as a woman in order to medal during the Olympics, and even then it was an ambiguous situation during an unusual time with someone who didn’t medal. What you’re essentially saying is that women ought to be subjected to blood tests and gynecological examinations in order to prove their womanhood to protect them from an imagined threat. You’re reducing the definition of a woman to a vagina and a pair of X chromosomes. You’re essentially telling trans and intersex people that they’re not welcome in higher level competition, even if their particular situations don’t confer any competitive advantage. You’re explicitly telling women that if they want to compete they need to prove their gender, for their own good. You’re deciding to force something as fluid and varied as gender into a binary. In the name of protecting women you’re saying that they need to put up with invasions for privacy and the walking back of gender roles and definitions. You’re raising a big middle finger to the trans, queer, intersex, and gender rebel communities. And why? To prevent a theoretical problem.

    As for the prisons, you’ve brought up an interesting point (even if you didn’t mean to). There actually is a pretty big problem in the prison system right now when it comes to trans individuals. But, sadly, it doesn’t conform to your fantasy narrative. The problem isn’t predatory men pretending to be women so they can rape to their heart’s content (as if a single man with an agenda like that would last long in a women’s maximum security setting anyway). The problem is the gender police forcing trans and intersex individuals into situations where they must either hide their identity or be preyed upon.

    But hey, I’m sure the motives of (male) prison officials (like Olympic committees) are pure. I’m sure they just want to protect those weak, vulnerable, utterly defenseless women. I’m sure it doesn’t have anything to do with enforcing gender norms or the hatred/disgust they have for people different from them. I’m sure none of these regulations are motivated by a desire to keep people who challenge dominant worldviews out of the public eye and thus reduce cognitive dissonance. I’m sure women who don’t conform to traditional beauty standards won’t be accused of being men in order to humiliate them or put them off their game or just generally terrorize them. Because we’re past that. We’ve ascended to a higher level. Everything is good now. Nothing to see here, move along, and don’t forget to drop trou on the way past that man in the suit over there to confirm your gender. Its for your own good, really…

  65. Farhat
    Farhat July 31, 2008 at 8:10 pm |

    Because men aren’t exactly tripping over each other to pose as women so they can win medals.

    Because they won’t under the current rules. If you think many men wouldn’t call themselves women just so that they could win millions in sponsorship contract I’d have to say you’re delusional and all too gullible about how men can be trusted to not act to their advantage when it suits them. Moreover, we aren’t even considering countries where individualism is not as much of a virtue and country officials would pressure males who could win against women but not against men to call themselves women.

  66. Passerby
    Passerby July 31, 2008 at 9:28 pm |

    # hypatia says:
    “We don’t give funding to athletes who don’t compete at top levels, and would remove the option for women to devote their lives to sport.”

    I’m not sure why _anyone_ should be encouraged to devote their lives to sport. It seems such a terrible waste of talent and resources. But if they must, let it be paid for by those who derive some (incomprehensible to me) entertainment value from watching other people running up and down. Then if people wish to pay to watch sex-segregated running up and down, they would be free to do so, the rules could be set by those paying for it.

    The main problem with the Olympics is that it is funded out of my taxes, in fact despite being far from a high earner I’m probably going to have to pay our highly regressive local taxes to fund the London games for the rest of my life, a fact I _deeply_ resent. Especially as many of those who pushed for the games (e.g. Seb Coe, former athlete and very rich guy) are making a huge amount of money out of them.

    “All of which has nothing to do with the athlete… solution… let’s punish the athlete. Interesting… you obviously didn’t enjoy your gym class.”

    No, I quite liked PE at school OK, and in retrospect am grateful I was forced to participate, at least at first. Unfortunately, because of the very same obsession with elite quasi-professional sports that the Olympics typifies, after the first couple of years our school gym teachers generally preferred to indulge their frustrated professional football ambitions by taking the ‘school team’ off for practice, telling the rest of us to just find something to do amongst ourselves (which meant sitting in McDonanlds for many, unsupervised 30-aside football games on concrete for the rest).
    Our sports facilities also left a lot to be desired, playing tennis with table tennis bats, because the school only had one tennis racket, was a particular highlight. Yet millions of pounds are lavished on the elite glory-hunters!

    The same attitude is demonstrated in the way Sunday football fields for ordinary people in London are being tarmaced over to make room for car parks for the Olympians, and the way massive amounts of money are being spent on the Olympics (and former Olympians like Seb Coe are getting rich out of the construction work involved) while my local swimming baths has been closed down. And don’t get me started on the absence of cycle lanes.

    I don’t think not wanting to fund an event for the benefit of athletes, while the rest of us watch them on TV, and suggesting that instead we should spend the money on allowing non-obsessional athletes to enjoy some sport is ‘punishing’ anybody.

    “Although you may not, a good portion of people enjoy sport, and not because it’s good for cardio-vascular health. (In fact if you tell the kids to play for their health you might quite effectively discourage them.) They like it because it’s fun, a good release of energy and competitive. A lot of people like competition and something like the Olympics is the natural manifestation of this.”

    Yes, and those people don’t get to play sport as much as they otherwise could because of our obsession with pandering to the small number of full-timers. Competition on a casual basis is fine, it becomes ridiculous when it gets as institutionalised as it is with the Olympics. With market-funded sports one has to accept that many people are prepared to pay just to watch others play, even if I think that’s screwed up and a symptom of how technology has increased social divisons, I have to accept it. Though I’ve never understood the idea of ‘supporting’ football teams, which are just multi-national money-making machines staffed by highly-paid mercenaries.

    The Olympics are not funded like that so I have stronger objections.

    “And what in life is not pointless, in the grand scale? Truth is most of it is pointless, whether you’re an athlete, a bank teller, or a high powered executive, so why pick on the athlete?”

    A bank teller provides a useful service, an athlete does not (excepting the peculiar entertainment value some get from watching it), Also a bank teller is paid for by those who use the service, athletes, here anyway, are to a large degree state subsidised.

  67. William
    William July 31, 2008 at 11:57 pm |

    Because they won’t under the current rules. If you think many men wouldn’t call themselves women just so that they could win millions in sponsorship contract I’d have to say you’re delusional and all too gullible about how men can be trusted to not act to their advantage when it suits them.

    So what you’re saying, essentially, is that because men can’t be trusted women should be humiliated and forced into an imaginary gender binary or be told they simply can’t compete. Furthermore, the threat posed by these hypothetical men is so great that any woman who doesn’t fit the exact binary society has decreed must be forbidden from competition, even if she has no competitive advantage?

    Thats either the absolute most depressing utilitarian argument I’ve ever heard or a bullshit smokescreen for the rigid enforcement of gender roles. Honestly, I don’t care which.

  68. Farhat
    Farhat August 1, 2008 at 12:25 pm |

    Thats either the absolute most depressing utilitarian argument I’ve ever heard or a bullshit smokescreen for the rigid enforcement of gender roles. Honestly, I don’t care which.

    I am not arguing one way or the other for what’s preferable, I am just outlining what would happen if we took people’s gender at their word.

  69. gender testing at the olympics at The Head On Radio Network

    [...] Gender testing for female Olympians from Feministe by Sam [...]

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