Patricia Nell Warren

Olympics and the coming gender inquisition

Filed By Patricia Nell Warren | January 24, 2010 5:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment, Politics, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: Caster Semenya, IAAF, intersex testing, IOC, Olympics

While the IAAF has been backing and filling on the Caster Semenya case, many of us have been waiting for the IOC shoe to drop. This week the shoe dropped. In Miami Beach, a panel of so-called "experts" convened by the IOC and the IAAF has announced from their imperial heights: "Athletes who identify themselves as female but have medical disorders that give them masculine characteristics should have their disorders diagnosed and treated."

In 1999, when the IOC finally agreed to end the old regime on gender testing -- after decades of growing outrage and resistance from athletes -- it was clearly a case of "too good to be true" since the bugaboo of "gender," and the sports world's refusal to deal with it realistically, has not gone away. Over the last decade, it has gotten bigger and uglier. What Caster Semenya is being put through is a Joan of Arc type inquisition over gender. And now the IOC wants to do it to a lot of other women.

The experts insist that they aren't being "unfair" -- that they're only concerned about "athlete health." They said that these "disordered" athletes should be allowed to compete...but only if they agree to treatment. In other words, women's eligibility will now be determined on a case-by-case basis. Photographs of women athletes would be looked at. Any that look "too "masculine" will be shunted into actual testing to determine if a "disorder" is present, and recommendations for "treatment" would be made. If they don't agree, they can't compete.

I find the IOC proposal outrageous, and their alleged concern for the health of intersex athletes is pure baloney. But perhaps its very outrageousness will make it self-destruct in a few years. Aside from how unscientific it is to refer to intersex as a "disorder," I will hope that a widespread athlete outcry will once again put an end to this amped-up and extra-punitive new policy of testing.

The current Caster Semenya inquisition was fueled by the fact that a few women who got beat by her complained that she was "too masculine." The new proposal would open the floodgates to complaints by sore losers. After all, the question of who looks "too masculine" starts in the imagination of the beholder. What country fielding an international team would resist the temptation to complain about So-and-So from another country who may be able to beat their women because she looks a teensy-bit too narrow-hipped and muscular? Especially given the fact that intersex women are a larger percentage in sports than they do in the general population?

The IOC may be so swamped by complaints, and by the resulting investigations, that the whole program might prove to be not only politically dangerous but also logistically unworkable.

It's all very well for some women to feel that athletes like Semenya have an unfair advantage. But Caster was just one woman. What will happen to international competition, politically, if numbers of women now have their careers disrupted by their gender being inquisitioned?

Oh, and who will pay for all this testing and treatment? And the inevitable lawsuits? Caster Semenya now has her own battery of lawyers, and somebody is paying their tab. I'll bet that the Semenya boondoggle has cost the IAAF and South Africa millions of dollars already, and it's not over yet. Multiply it by a couple dozen in a year, and it could break the bank. One of the reasons that the IOC stopped the old gender-testing on all women competitors was because of the colossal expense. And even if a women were found to need a "required" treatment, like surgical removal of undescended testes, how many of them could afford it?

The final question: whether men's photos should be looked at, for evidence of "too feminine."

It's clear that this obsession about women's gender is being driven by more than allegations of "unfair advantage." It's being driven by widespread cultural discomfort over how some women look when they're out there in front of the TV cameras. The fact is, victory in men's competition doesn't always depend on muscles and strength. There are men out there who frankly don't look all that "masculine." In some sports, a distinctive absence of "masculine" characteristics might actually give a guy an "unfair" advantage over other men. Like in figure skating, where a more feminine physique can give him extra flexibility and ability to execute artistic moves. Indeed, figure skating has been rumbling for years about an alleged "need" to make the sport more "masculine."

So the whole male arena of sport -- and the egos and careers of male athletes -- have, so far, been rigorously protected from gender scrutiny. In my opinion, this scrutiny should now happen. It's only fair that the torture instruments of cultural discomfort about gender appearance be applied to men as well.

And I'll bet that, if enough male competitors -- and the nations sending them out there -- were to find themselves being figuratively "burned at the stake, " and the gold-medal prospects of a few outstanding male athletes destroyed, the way Semenya's might have been, the outcry will be such that the IOC will hastily backtrack.

I hope the IOC and IAAF wake up to how ridiculous and inhumane they're being.


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Thank you for not letting this go unnoticed.

I do hope they'll realize it's unworkable sooner rather than later. The cost to individual careers is far too high, since the lack of comprehension of conditions like AIS is so vast.

You wrote:

In my opinion, this scrutiny should now happen. It's only fair that the torture instruments of cultural discomfort about gender appearance be applied to men as well.

Be careful what you wish for. It would be fair comparatively speaking, yes, but I don't consider widening the witch-hunt as an ideal solution.

It;s been on my list as well.

Personally, I plan to complain about it from a sexisj standpoint, and it should truly be applied to the men as well, if they are going to do it.

Our hearts should all go out to Caster Semenya, who is trapped in a nightmare of irrelevant and vicious law, foolish and incompetent medicine, and arrogant and self-serving "sportsmen". (time out to vomit and cry for her)

The insane obsession of hypercompetitive sport with both the steroid and the gender issues makes the entire enterprise lack real social value. They seek to divide people, one against another, and to decree that anyone not fitting a small narrow set of possibilities unfit. For sport to have social value, it must unite people around shared values. European soccer seems to unite people around shared alcohol, which is not the right idea.

No doubt Caster grew up thinking she was a big, tough girl, and rejoiced in the physical power of her body. A perfectly fine way to live one's life, I would say and bless her.

Now, in the wake of her greatest triumph, she finds herself denied the right to exist as a member of society. Soulless sports officials presume to pry into matters only of scientific interest. Ignorant doctors want to see what's inside and take it out to satisfy an irrational curiosity combined with fear of the unknown. And everyone will presume to know what is better for Caster than she herself and give horrible advice.

At the same time, destiny draws her inexorably into the core of the New Age, where all forms of sex, gender, and erotic play are embraced, explored, and loved.

I pray for god to strengthen and guide this remarkable person to find love and happiness in her life and to protect her from the consequences of the insanity with which she is surrounded.

This debate will either catch fire or be smothered by ignorance. Most people know very little about the variations of human gender- even the majority of the so-called experts. Nature comes up with a kalaidoscope of variations that are not normally discussed. It's almost like the American politics of a two-party system- ignoring the possibility that there may be quite a few viable parties that would like to have a voice. In the politics of gender, it's become a two-party system: male and female. This ignores the true variables of Nature whether chemically, physically, mentally or spiritually. We have to broaden our views.
Of course, the politics of "commercial sports" play a really big role in this debate, and that's a pity- but, there we are.

"In some sports, a distinctive absence of "masculine" characteristics might actually give a guy an "unfair" advantage over other men. Like in figure skating, where a more feminine physique can give him extra flexibility and ability to execute artistic moves. Indeed, figure skating has been rumbling for years about an alleged "need" to make the sport more "masculine." "

I see where you are going... but my GPS/tomtom/Thomisina isn't taking me there.

I get that until anything/anywhere really affects the MALE population... of the entire BIG ole world, does that part of the population go... Huh? Look at that? Look at that SHIT? Women have to put up with this?!

That part of the population HATES hearing this... because so many "think" they have their finger SO on the pulse of being a woman.

That will be my final "tirade" of MP [male priv].

But when it comes to things like physically/sexually scrutinizing ice skating & dance for the male population, visible champions/professionals... it's just not going to happen.

This is why I think that:::

Because straight women still want to f*ck him.

I think straight men sublimely tell themselves...
"If that was a woman I would f*ck her."
Ergo he has value.

The greater LGBTQRXY&Z's see "family" so we root them on, whether they are even part of the greater umbrella ella... mostly because they are not the visible majority.
We see him.
He is VISIBLE It's all cool w/us.


Some of the LGBTQRXY&Zs might want to actually f*ck him or be f*cked by him.

Even some of the dykes, if he is down W/being a bottom.

So no.
Male Ice Skaters will not ever be challenged.
Only because... Male Ice Skaters are f*ckable to a vast majority who enjoy the sport.

Oh sure. Their competitors will "protest".
But no one will take it the least bit seriously, because the/he athlete will have a d*ck.

Has a d*ck.
Male "spit" = you got d*ck. Ergo = Male

So it's only the female intersexed... a COMPLETELY different letter/category of the umbrella ella ... is being targeted. Again.

Targeted/erased/humiliated and having to justify... justify a life that never, EVER needed to be, challenged or justified in the first place.

Keep your tests. Keep your f*cking badges. F*ck them w/a triple axle...

Never needed the medical industry, to diagnose their natural talent.
Which to be perfectly honest... I agree with.

Why would anyone who succeeded and made a career/profession/talent/life need to be diagnosed... when their wasn't a "problem" to begin with?

A talent that just naturally came to a person is a gift, because they were intune to their own being to use it, nuture it and make it visible.

It's more PC "green" then any electric car, recycling or organic food.

Intersexed is HOT green.

When society/conditioning/stupid ass medical industry meet... I really hope that we will see intersexed as beautifully natural.

Just something that happens.
It does.

Like Identical Twins.
When I was birthing my twins the Dr. [[no less at Bethesda Naval Medical Hospital in DC]] told me while I puffed/panted/puked/pushed 2 different 7 lb bodies out of my little ole body, the Dr. said... "Didja U know that Identical Twins are a freak of nature? Yea. Only humans and Armadillos have identical twins. It's a freak of nature that happens to work out."

He then smiled at me and walked out of the room.
I had a ephinany at that moment.

1. I hate Drs. I do. I hate them. I am Durphobic. No one will ever convince me to like them. If you have any type of "dr" associated w/your name... I will sublimely go into... You seriously, have really bought into your own shit. Gr you need some perspective. I don't like them. They are usually kind of a major *ssholes in "most" cases. Not all... just most.

2. I like Armadillos. Always have since I read John Irvings "A prayer for Owen Meany". So what's so wrong w/Armadillos?
Nothing. Absof*ckinglutely Nothing.

So my epiphany left me w/this as I shoved out over 14lbs of babies... Dr's suck and think that life can be "freakish". Armadillos have a hard shell and sure you see them driving by as road rugs at times. But they have hard shells and if you count all of them up vs. dr's.... they have been around longer, out number dr's and survived against all odds.

Give it to some Armadillo Love.

Johnny Weir just last night. Example::

Listen to the crowds response. As far as I know JW isn't intersexed. Just not the visible majority... and the crowd LOVES IT.

Now if that had been a butch dyke lezzie ROCKING it out on the ice dancing to "Spoonman" Soundgarden... the smelling salts would have been passed around like a fake ID on "chicken night".

ShipofFools | January 25, 2010 5:40 PM

I read about this in New York Times I think and it made me feel sick. Firstly, it seems to be a result of the change of official lingo from intersex to disorder of sex developement (DSD), a change with far reaching consequences, not just in the US. They can avoid the question of: are intersexuals allowed to partcipate in sports (and in other areas of life, meaning: do intersexuals have human rights)? by calling them disordered.
Secondly, it is also one of the first recent examples, where *adults* get forced to get treatment for an intersex condition. Usually they only can force children and teens. All this gives me a very bad feeling.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | January 25, 2010 8:56 PM

In a matter of form this makes me think of the physical expectations of all athletes. What's next? Someone athletically gifted, presenting as their actual gender, but regarded as too ugly to compete? It makes about as much sense.

It is as absurd to me as justifications I have heard from people I have known in the 1980's in the ballet world that screen out the too tall, too short, even certain races etc. Their justifications to me at the now defunct "National Academy of Dance" made no sense then and now we should know better.

In reality though, is this not still about lucrative sports endorsements more than anything else?

Thank you Patricia

Crash2Parties | January 31, 2010 1:55 PM

This is disgusting on so many levels.

First, the modern Olympics were nothing more than a political tool between two competing ideologies, just like putting a man on the moon. The Faithful against the Godless, Capitalists against the Commies; there were so many beautiful diametrically opposed aspects. Like the US Space Program and religious extremists, without an enemy a new opposition *must* be found, it's a matter of survival.

Gender transgression is the new Communism.

How does one force "treatment" upon someone born with an intersex condition? I'd think that breast implants and Latisse-induced eyelashes would have a deleterious effect on lap times, but maybe the IOC is thinking of the free show from the judges' table.

Who pays for the treatment if the athlete really doesn't mind being subjected to it?

Where will they draw the line as to what constitutes "not feminine enough"?

If a male athelete is not masculine enough will he be allowed to take testosterone or other steroids? Considering their ban on T and anabolics (and analogs, etc.) their stance is becoming untenable or at the least blatantly sexist.