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  1. #1
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    Proposed Testosterone Testing of Some Female Olympians

    Just came across this article, which is about a report critical of the test that the IOC is considering adopting for determining sex for the Olympics. I wondered what folks think about this.

    Proposed Testosterone Testing of Some Female Olympians Challenged

    Proposed Olympic policies for testing the testosterone levels of select female athletes could discriminate against women who may not meet traditional notions of femininity and distort the scientific evidence on the relationship between testosterone, sex and athletic performance, says a Stanford University School of Medicine bioethicist and her colleagues.

    ...The testing policies, adopted a year ago by the International Association of Athletics Federations and now under consideration by the International Olympic Committee, call for using testosterone levels to decide whether an athlete is "feminine" enough to compete as a woman. The problem, the authors explain, is that there is insufficient evidence to set a benchmark for a normal testosterone levels in elite female athletes, let alone persuasive research showing that testosterone levels are a good predictor of athletic performance.
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    It's a huge can of worms, is what it is - with a lot of the potential problems nicely laid out in the article. But the part I'm most uncomfortable with (which is saying something) is the idea of "select". Not random, but "select".
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    This seems like a bad direction to take

    About what it means *if* high tetostorone levels are advantagerous:

    "It bears noting that athletes never begin on a fair playing field; if they were not exceptional in one regard or another they would not have made it to a prestigious international athletic stage," the authors note.
    The article also states that there has only been very few men masquerding as women in sports - it seems blown out of proportion.

    I wonder what would be a good test for sex (if needed - which it doesnt seem like)?
    I can't imagine something that wouldn't be inaccurate or very invasive. (You have a uterus - you're a woman.)
    In any case it should be like any other tests - random + podium.

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    ugh! determining how "feminine" someone is is not the same thing as determining one's gender/sex.
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    Quote Originally Posted by maatTheViking View Post
    I wonder what would be a good test for sex (if needed - which it doesnt seem like)?
    I can't imagine something that wouldn't be inaccurate or very invasive. (You have a uterus - you're a woman.)
    So if someone has had a hysterectomy -how is that to be handled? They'd fail your test. (Which I know was tongue in cheek). And what about someone with a uterus (or ovaries) and also testes?

    I think chromosomal testing could work. But you do have to outline what to do with those who are not XY or XX. It may be able to state that a Y chromosome makes you not female- but I don't know if that is actually true for some chromosomal disorders, there may be cases of a Y chromosome where the person is still overwhelmingly female. These tests would be expensive and invasive, I believe.

    I think for anyone who is "borderline" (ie, not clearly a male taping his junk back and lying) determining sex is nearly impossible.


    Testosterone level alone is an awful idea.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Skittl1321 View Post
    ...I think for anyone who is "borderline" (ie, not clearly a male taping his junk back and lying) determining sex is nearly impossible.

    It seems to me except in such an unlikely case, there should be no determinations made and people allowed to self-identify. The point is made in the article that people vary in many ways that give them an athletic advantage (or disadvantage).

    It seems to me the IOC doesn't need to figure out what tests to do, but needs to broaden its definitions and let the whole thing go. It invites prejudicial scrutiny where there should be none to set up these supposed tests.

    Is there really any reason for concern about the idea that someone who is somehow "too male" will compete as a female?
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    just proves even in sports women are being measured
    not just in their femininity

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    Quote Originally Posted by Skittl1321 View Post
    So if someone has had a hysterectomy -how is that to be handled? They'd fail your test. (Which I know was tongue in cheek). And what about someone with a uterus (or ovaries) and also testes?
    Anyone born with a uterus?
    It is a mess...


    Quote Originally Posted by Skittl1321 View Post
    I think chromosomal testing could work. But you do have to outline what to do with those who are not XY or XX. It may be able to state that a Y chromosome makes you not female- but I don't know if that is actually true for some chromosomal disorders, there may be cases of a Y chromosome where the person is still overwhelmingly female. These tests would be expensive and invasive, I believe.

    I think for anyone who is "borderline" (ie, not clearly a male taping his junk back and lying) determining sex is nearly impossible.
    From the article:
    Although it is widely believed that chromosomal testing or genital exams can indicate definitively a person's sex, such methods are flawed. Contrary to the general understanding that women have two X chromosomes and men have an X and a Y, there are actually too many variations on chromosomal markers to use the test accurately in all cases. While it is uncommon for women to have a Y chromosome, it does occur in a small number of women


    Quote Originally Posted by love_skate2011 View Post
    just proves even in sports women are being measured
    not just in their femininity
    Yeah, the whole idea is so discrimanatory since it seems to indicate that women have to be 'feminine'


    I agree with BlueRidge, in the end self identification should be enough - especially since the article states tehre has been 2! known cases of blatant cheating.

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    When I saw the topic I wondered if this policy was designed specifically to exclude athletes like Caster Semenya. The required medical treatment for hyperandrogenism sounds terrible.

    Quote from article:
    "Only those who have lived through having their eligibility and gender identity contested can attest to its egregious impact," Martinez-Patio writes along with co-author Hida Viloria, chair of the Organization Intersex International. "The psychological consequences of this experience are excruciating."
    I saw a wonderful documentary on Semenya that gave a lot of insight into what this experience would be like. Truly heartbreaking.

    I suspect this issue stems from some people's discomfort with those who don't fit within stereotypical gender norms. The article points to this double-standard:

    "There are many biological reasons some athletes are better than others," the authors write, pointing to several runners and cyclists who have rare mitochondrial variations that give them extraordinary aerobic capacity, or basketball players who have acromegaly, a hormonal condition that results in exceptionally large hands and feet. Such biological differences don't cause them to be banned from competition, they write.

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    Should a trans-gendered person be allowed to self-identify as their preferred gender? Not sure that would be fair. (And, rather gruesome thoughts of what would have been done in the E. German era if that had been an allowable method.)

    There are people who are prohibited from competing because they medically require a drug that is on the absolutely prohibited list. There are people who are prohibited from competing because they're not from an eligible country. People have been prohibited because they're too old (tennis), too young (gymnastics, figure skating), use assistive devices (to compensate for an injury) that are presumed to give them an unfair advantage, or because they're female. (A la the female ski jumpers not allowed in the Vancouver games, and for many years the lack of opportunity for female marathoners.)

    As long as gender is a key criteria for competition, some method of ascertaining gender is probably necessary. (Though there are a few Olympic sports -- shooting, sailing come to mind -- where men and women compete together.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by barbk View Post
    (Though there are a few Olympic sports -- shooting, sailing come to mind -- where men and women compete together.)
    Men and women most definitely do not compete together in shooting or sailing. May have done once upon a time, but not any more.

    http://www.london2012.com/sailing/

    http://www.london2012.com/shooting/

    I think the only sport where women and men compete against one another (besides mixed doubles in racket sports) is equestrianism.
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    Quote Originally Posted by barbk View Post
    As long as gender is a key criteria for competition, some method of ascertaining gender is probably necessary.
    THAT. The alternative would be to just make all events open for all -which would practically mean the end for 99% of elite female athletes.

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by allezfred View Post
    Men and women most definitely do not compete together in shooting or sailing. May have done once upon a time, but not any more.

    http://www.london2012.com/sailing/

    http://www.london2012.com/shooting/

    I think the only sport where women and men compete against one another (besides mixed doubles in racket sports) is equestrianism.

    I think open sailing events are still technically open to sailors of both genders, though it seems to be unused in practice, and 2016 is scheduled to have two mixed gender events.

    And yes, it looks like the last time women and men competed together in shooting was '96.

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