Thursday, August 20, 2009

"sex-determination testing" for athletes

I don't typically read the sports section, but this headline made me stop:
Caster Semenya Faces Sex-Determination Testing After Winning World Track Title

Aside from the ignorant quotes from the other athletes, I think the article is pretty well written and makes some good points.

“It turns out genes, hormones and genitals are pretty complicated,” Alice Dreger, a professor of medical humanities and bioethics at Northwestern University, said in a telephone interview. “There isn’t really one simple way to sort out males and females. Sports require that we do, but biology doesn’t care. Biology does not fit neatly into simple categories, so they do these tests. And part of the reason I’ve criticized the tests is that a lot of times, the officials don’t say specifically how they’re testing and why they’re using that test.”

Also...I had no idea that sex-determination testing was obligatory for female athletes at the Olympics up until 1999. Now the testing is just reserved for "special cases". It really does seem like they are just going to make a social decision about what "counts" as male or female and say that it was really scientific.

I'll be interested to see what comes of this...

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