Scholars Question Olympic Sex Testing

978-0-8223-4318-9_prScholars Katrina Karkazis, author of Fixing Sex, and Rebecca Jordan-Young assert that new sex testing of female Olympic athletes is unfair and scientifically baseless. In a paper published last week in the American Journal of Bioethics, Karkazis and Jordan-Young say the policy could "create gender witch hunts." The International Olympic Committee initiated the new tests for testosterone levels in women in the wake of South African Semenya_1558364c runner Caster Semenya’s gotional Olympic Committee initiated tld-medal performance in the 800 metres at the 2009 world championships. But Karkazis and Jordan-Young think the tests feed into larger problems with gender identity in sport. Writing in today's New York Times, they argue that, " Policing women’s testosterone would exacerbate one of the ugliest tendencies in women’s sports today: the name-calling and the insinuations that an athlete is “too masculine,” or worse, that she is a man." In a piece in Anthropology News, they write that high testosterone levels do not guarantee a woman will outperform her peers; rather they assure she will "look masculine," and thus cause suspicion about her sex. They conclude that "the idea that the presence of women with hyperandrogenism is athletically rather than culturally threatening to other women athletes doesn’t hold up. In the process, what we get is extraordinary scrutiny of women who fail to conform to gender norms, which is hardly a step toward fairness for female athletes." To hear more about the research, listen to a podcast with Katrina Karkazis and check out her book for a thorough discussion of the medical and social issues surrounding children born intersex.

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