So, the human body comes in two versions: female and male. Right? Wrong. In reading a recent article in the New York Times on sex-testing in female athletes, I learned there is a whole range of physical degrees of being male or female out there.
Some females have external female body parts and internal female organs, but their bodies produce levels of testosterone that are off the charts, making them male by Olympic definition.
Other women and girls identify as female, look like females on the outside and believe themselves to be, but have undescended testes sitting inside their bodies, and XY chromosomes, instead of XX. And most don’t even know it.
Still other women have XX chromosomes (female chromosomes), but ambiguous genitalia that cause them to fall between the categories of male and female.
All of these variations qualify as ‘intersex’- and they are in the line of fire of the International Association of Athletics Federations (I.A.A.F.) and the International Olympic Committee (I.O.C.).
Why? The I.A.A.F and the I.O.C are concerned that intersex women have a competitive advantage over non-intersex females competing in the Olympic games. They are afraid that by letting these women compete, they are creating an uneven playing field.
It’s a fact that intersex women can have higher levels of testosterone, more fast-twitch muscle fibers and increased muscle mass.
And so, they are seeking to weed them out. Aggressively.
Female athletes currently have to undergo what is called ‘sex-testing’ or gender testing in order to compete in the Olympics. The demeaning procedure can involve anything from blood testing and physical examines to a detailed examination of personal medical history and stimulation of the clitoris to analyze the body’s response.
Crazy? Yes, it sounds outlandish to me. The story has it that all this testing began years ago when it was feared men could be posing as women and competing unfairly in the games, with a better chance at winning. Tucking and taping and things like that. A man has never been caught doing so, but apparently, nonetheless, the fear prevails and the testing continues.
It seems unnecessary, and unfair. Men aren’t tested to eliminate those who are genetically off the charts and ‘too manly’ to compete. But women are.
Here’s an idea: maybe sex categories aren’t as cut and dry as we think. Maybe it’s simply all to fuel the fashion industry. Just an idea.
How about creating two new categories in the games, for a total of four? One for ‘regular women’, one for ‘regular men’ and two more for those intersex females and overly powerful men, the ‘super beings’.
If genetics has changed a person to give them what could be an unfair competitive athletic advantage, let them compete against the other supers.
Maybe that would cut down on advertising and traumatize our deeply held notions of how the world and nature works, but in truth, is it fair to simply deny some of the strongest women on the planet the chance to compete?