Saturday, August 22, 2009

if it walks like a duck: sports and the regulation of female bodies

If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and talks like a's a duck.

Substitute woman for duck, and one has illuminating insight as to what our culture finds appropriate femaleness, as well as the absence of wiggle room.

Just ask South African athlete Caster Semenya. Muscular body? Deep voice? Stellar athletic performance? Must be a man.

Top it off, Semenya now needs to take a "gender verification test."

News flash: gender is not a more sophisticated or politically correct term for sex. Sex refers to chromosomes and genitals, and gender refers to social performance. Therefore, a person whose biological sex is male may have a female gender performance.

This brings about another issue: how do members of trans communities participate in sports teams? I'd love to get some feedback.

The Colonic


LezFemme said...


When a participant’s identity documents record their gender to be different from the one in which the person wishes to participate, and the sport they are registering for can accommodate them without creating an undue safety risk and without breaching any required sanctioning rules1, they will be accredited for participation under their chosen or self-identified gender if one of the following two conditions are met:

1. A letter from a medical practitioner is provided stating that the participant has been actively involved in hormone treatment for a minimum of two full years

2. Proof of the participant living as the self-identified gender for a minimum of two years

Quetzalli said...

Since 2004 the IOC has taken the position that transsexuals may compete in their affirmed gender two (2) years after their gonadectomy. The rule is non-gender specific, meaning it applies to male and female athletes. As such, most sponsoring sport agencies have begun adopting these rules. To my knowledge, no F2M have qualified (or applied) under these rules, whereas numerous M2F have qualified.

So, to answer your question about transsexual participation, I think that has been resolved. After two years, a transsexual who has undergone a gonadectomy can participate. No gonadectomy, no play. As far as transsexual individuals are concerned is pretty cut and dry and reasonably fair. Where it IS an issue will be with intersexed individuals. Eventually there will need to be some kind of definition as to where to draw the line between men and women. Its these athletes that will be ultimately impacted.

From my perspective, the biggest problem with the controversy around Ms. Semenya is that the IOC violated its own rules and did not keep the investigation confidential. The link to the IOC rules is below.

Unknown said...

“I was in the Equality LGBT march on wash. D.C. Sunday. There was a rainbow around the sun at noon. Thank you God for the approval of Love