Getting Intersexy: Sex Verification in Professional Sports

First off, let’s start with the basics: what is sex verification and how does that relate to intersex?

Sex verification is when tests are conducted to confirm if a person, in this case athletes, are really the sex they claim to be. The practice was primarily done on questionable women, because why would women pretend to be men? Absurd. However, men were totally disguising themselves as women to bring home more medals and rewards. Makes complete sense.

The tests were uncomfortable and intrusive. Women were poked and prodded all in the search of whether they were truly women or not. The early tests basically just examined the genitalia, but since then have become more in depth. Chromosomal and hormonal analysis are now being conducted, in addition to, physical examinations. This has caused some issues, with one major one being intersexedness.

Intersex is a general term used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male. There was an increase in the amount of people identified as intersexed with the prevalence of sex verification.  Women who had abnormal genitalia, such as an enlarged clitoris, were considered more male than female and could be cut from participating in sports. Medals would be revoked and careers would be tainted. Other features that would call into question a woman’s sex included musculature, breast development, stride length, etc.

Obviously, women can not perform nearly as well as men in sports. That is their domain. So if a woman is as good as the men, she must be a man herself. What a dated, sexist, patriarchal idea.

Some women who have had their sex question include Dutee Chand, Caster Semenya, Ewa Klobukowska, and María José Martínez-Patiño.

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