The NY Times is reporting that the Olympics in Beijing this summer will be testing female athletes to see if they're actually women or men posing as women:
Organizers of the Beijing Olympics have set up a sex-determination laboratory to evaluate "suspect" female athletes, the official Chinese news agency Xinhua reported Sunday. The lab is similar to ones set up at previous Olympics in Sydney and Athens, and will draw on the resources of the Peking Union Medical College Hospital to evaluate an athlete's external appearance, hormones and genes.
This practice, in the history of the Olympics, has excluded more women than the men-posing-as-women it's caught (that number being a big ol' goose egg).
Despite the fact that there's no need for these tests, this sort of testing is more complicated than a simple test. As Monica Helms wrote about extensively, any standard, such as chromosomes, hormones, or genitalia has gaps, and through those gaps many women who've worked all their lives to be Olympic athletes may watch their dreams fall to oblivion.
Miriam at Feministing also points out that this test is sexist, considering that only women will be tested, not men, the assumption being that men are so much better at each and every sport that they'd be the ones to pose as women, not the other way around.
Even though there's no massive influx of men competing in women's categories, women's sports should be protected at the Olympics. I think we'd see a massive decrease in the number of women at the games if all the events were gender neutral, both due to the differing ways men build muscle and size and the rampant discrimination against women athletes from the governments of the countries they represent.
But besides the bias against women and intersex people, I think that the underlying insult to transgender and transsexual people often gets ignored in this discussion, that having a genetic background as one sex and living one's life as another automatically means that person is being deceitful. What if a person who doesn't pass the test, whatever the test is, actually is a woman, no matter what her body says? What if she's pre-op or non-op? Does that make her any less of a woman?
(For clarity's sake, my answer is "no.")
Personally, this whole testing thing sounds stupid considering they've never caught anyone posing as a woman to participate in the Olympics with the tests. The only person who's ever been caught cheating wasn't caught with testing, he just came out and told everyone 20 years later:
Despite decades of rigorous testing of women athletes, only one known case of gender cheating exists in the history of the modern Olympics -- and it was not uncovered by a sex-determination test.
In 1936, a German athlete named Dora Ratjen finished fourth in the women's high jump. Twenty years later, Ratjen disclosed that he was in fact Hermann Ratjen, and that the Nazis had forced him to compete as a woman.
In the end, since they're not testing every woman, just those who are "suspect," it's just going to be a tool used by sore losers to waste everyone's time and occasionally disqualify a trans or intersex athlete.