All the boldface is my own.
The first evidence of this new policy in action was published last year in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. Four female athletes, ages 18 to 21, all from developing countries, were investigated for high testosterone. Three were identified as having atypically high testosterone after undergoing universal doping tests. (They were not suspected of doping: Tests clearly distinguish between doping and naturally occurring testosterone.)
Sports officials (the report does not identify their governing-body affiliation) sent the young women to a medical center in France, where they were put through examinations that included blood tests, genital inspections, magnetic resonance imaging, X-rays and psychosexual history — many of the same invasive procedures Ms. Semenya endured. Since the athletes were all born as girls but also had internal testes that produce unusually high levels of testosterone for a woman, doctors proposed removing the women’s gonads and partially removing their clitorises. All four agreed to undergo both procedures; a year later, they were allowed to return to competition.
The doctors who performed the surgeries and wrote the report acknowledged that there was no medical reason for the procedures. Quite simply, these young female athletes were required to have drastic, unnecessary and irreversible medical interventions if they wished to continue in their sports.
I’m angry, frustrated, and even a little surprised. At this level of things, they couldn’t find anyone who knew anything about the relationship between T and clitorises? How does a large clitoris have anything to do with competitiveness?
As a friend just asked, are they seriously saying that having a larger clitoris makes women run faster? People use it to steer or catch the wind? What?
Canada’s Olympics ad points out the obvious:
8/20 UPDATE: “The storm of emotions going through us was incredible. And if we, accidentally, while congratulating each other, touched lips, excuse me. We think the whole fuss is more of a sick fantasy not grounded in anything.”
— Russian sprinter Kseniya Ryzhova, adamantly denying that the headline-grabbing kiss she shared with another female runner on the medal stand at the world championships in Moscow was a protest against Russia’s draconian anti-gay law.
(Kseniya Ryzhova and Tatyana Firova were two of the Russian team who won the 4x400m relay in Moscow. When on the podium receiving
their medals they kissed, on the lips. It is assumed this is a protest against the recently passed anti gay laws.)
It’s an interesting clip, but this story by Matt Tullis – the story of the intersex Olympian – is ever better, detailing, sympathetically, some of what she and her fans experienced as a result of her autopsy and revelation.
There have been some interesting articles turning up some interesting facts in light of Jason Collins coming out.
For starters, he wasn’t the first. Glenn Burke was:
Burke made no secret of his sexual orientation to the Dodgers front office, his teammates, or friends in either league. He also talked freely with sportswriters, though all of them ended up shaking their heads and telling him they couldn’t write that in their papers. Burke was so open about his sexuality that the Dodgers tried to talk him into participating in a sham marriage. (He wrote in his autobiography that the team offered him $75,000 to go along with the ruse.) He refused. In a bit of irony that would seem farcical if it wasn’t so tragic, one of the Dodgers who tried to talk Burke into getting “married,” was his manager, Tommy Lasorda, whose son Tom Jr. died from AIDS complications in 1991. To this day, Lasorda Sr. refuses to acknowledge his son’s homosexuality.
And then this one, about Vince Lombardi:
“My father was way ahead of his time,” Susan Lombardi said. “He was discriminated against as a dark-skinned Italian American when he was younger, when he felt he was passed up for coaching jobs that he deserved. He felt the pain of discrimination, and so he raised his family to accept everybody, no matter what color they were or whatever their sexual orientation was.
Now *there’s* an argument for why I should be a Packers fan – if there is one. (Which there isn’t. But still, this one’s better than any. No one told me the famous Packers coach was born in Brooklyn, either. He was only about 15 years older than my dad, and got his start in the NFL working for the Giants.)
I love the way one person comes out and the whole thing pretty much implodes. It’s really, really great to see this happening in professional sports.
Of course the ladies – Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova – both came out in 1981.
(Sadly, in the meanwhile, LGBTQ allies Kluwe and Ayanbadejo have been sacked. So much for the NFL.)
California has just made it possible for trans college students to play as the gender they are instead of as the gender they were declared at birth.
It’s a good move, although it’s bound to come with complications.
It shouldn’t be a big deal, but it is, because the machismo of professional sports keeps so many of these guys in the closet. Not anymore: Jason Collins of the Washington Wizards just came out, and I expect a lot more will follow.
Glad someone took the first leap.
Collins says he didn’t set out to be the first out gay athlete playing in a major team sport, “but since I am, I’m happy to start the conversation. I wish I wasn’t the kid in the classroom raising his hand and saying, ‘I’m different.’ If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I’m raising my hand.”
Interestingly, he was motivated to come out due to the Boston bombing: life is short.
The Onion has saved me from having to say: fuck CNN & their coverage of the Steubenville verdict. (But do sign the petition, which has now collected 200k signatures, and which demands an apology for their rapist-sympathetic coverage.)
Just fuck the idiots who treat athletes as if they don’t have to be civilized. I hate the sports cult bullshit, hate it.
(That said, these two NFL guys spoke at the GLAAD awards about being allies to the LGBTQ communities, and I was impressed. My wife had a nice chat with Kluwe, too. More of this, please.)
Wow, this is huge news. Since Caster Semenya’s case first hit the headlines – which it never should have done for the sake of her privacy – there’s been a lot of speculation about women and competition.
That is, there wasn’t just a desire to define “woman” – since most experts know that’s impossible. (Trust me.) But the Olympics Committee instead are trying to define “woman athlete” or what might give a woman an “unfair” competitive edge against other women, and they’ve just decided how it’s going to be.
First, here’s what they came up with:
- Under the new policy, an investigation into the possibility that an athlete has hyperandrogenism can be requested by an athlete concerned about her own condition; a medical official for a country’s Olympic committee; a member of the I.O.C. Medical Commission or a member of the Olympic organizing committee’s medical commission; or the chairman of the I.O.C. Medical Commission.
- If the chairman decides to conduct an investigation, relevant documents like medical records will be gathered. If further investigation is needed, a panel of one gynecologist, one genetic expert and one endocrinologist will try to determine whether hyperandrogenism is present and if it offers a competitive advantage.
- If need be, the athlete and her international federation can appeal the decision within 21 days to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. She can also compete in men’s events if she qualifies.
- The guidelines do not address whether a woman found to have hyperandrogenism could undergo a treatment to make her eligible to compete as a woman.
So, point by point:
- Any female athlete can request another athlete’s sex and gender tests. No potential for bullying or gender baiting or witch hunting or policing of gender there. *sigh* What a nightmare: women judging other women’s “acceptable” level of womanness.
- There’s no distinction being made between people who take androgens and people whose bodies produce them.
- I have to say, I love the idea of women being able to compete in men’s events if they want to. That fucking rocks. & Just lit a nice green light for trans guys, too.
- Could undergo could mean: be encouraged to, be bullied into, willingly choose, feel required to. Problematic, but when it comes to many other decisions about gender, it can be hard to judge whether a person is choosing freely or making a coerced decision. This one will be no different.
I first thought that their decision to use T levels at the determining factor was a good idea. I still think it is. BUT:
I’ve been a self-proclaimed feminist for 20 years now, and it took me a very, very long while to realize that Title IX was not ONLY about sports. It states:
No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity.
There is no specific mention of sports, you’ll notice. I’ll be honest that that bias toward the sports issues it raised really pisses me off. And to clarify: I don’t hate sports. I just hate the way sports take up all the air in the room, all the time. And in this case, one of the reasons every reference we hear to Title IX concerns sports is because right out of the gate there were people more worried about how this might disrupt male athletes for a tiny goddamn second.
So to clarify, Title IX actually addresses all inequities in ANY EDUCATION PROGRAM OR ACTIVITY, which includes (but is not limited to):
- Access to Higher Education,
- Career Education,
- Education for Pregnant and Parenting Students,
- Learning Environment,
- Math and Science,
- Sexual Harassment,
- Standardized Testing
That said, today it has been 40 years since Title IX was enacted by President Nixon, and I’m glad we’ve got it. Lately, honestly, I’m wondering what happened that we seemed to abandon so many of the amazing goals of the 60s and 70s, or exactly when we took our eye off equity.
I have to say that this is kind of amazing: Sports Illustrated has taken on the topic of trans athletes.
For transgender men and women, the physiological traits that distinguish them as male or female don’t conform to how they feel about themselves. Some have undergone sex reassignment surgery or hormone therapy to make their biological and gender identities match. Others, such as the 28-year-old Godsey, have not: He was born as a female and therefore competes as a female, but he identifies as male. Imagine a body, especially one as finely tuned as an elite athlete’s, feeling inescapably foreign—as if it were intended for the opposite sex. “I take a lot of pride in the fact that I have a good amount of muscle mass, and I’ve done it naturally,” says Godsey. “But in some ways, this is the last body I would ever want.”
. . .
Consider something as simple as going to the bathroom. When using men’s rooms—his preference—Godsey usually tries to conceal his chest; in women’s rooms he accentuates it by wearing what he calls tight “girl shirts.” Still, he has been escorted out of an airport ladies’ room by security, interrogated at restaurants and once had to flee a group of snarling men at a truck-stop bathroom in Nebraska.
The world is a-changing. Maybe not fast enough, but faster than I expected.
I’m watching tonight with a fellow NYer and dedicated Giants fan, once again, of course, to stand in for my dad, who was a huge fan. So: GO GIANTS!
Of course no matter who wins, it will be a blue state victory, and an East Coast one, to boot.
… Football season, that is. For those of you who don’t live in Wisconsin or in some other place where football is de rigeur, I’m not sure you can understand exactly how awesome a beast football fandom is. I manged to avoid it for 40 years of my life, happily. I’ve never liked the violence of football; I’ve never been comfortable in a room where people are yelling violent things at a TV screen. It’s just not my cup of tea, & never has been. That’s not to say that I don’t attend Superbowl parties – I do, and always have, because the ads and the Half-Time show are entertaining – and I’ve certainly decided to watch with friends who love the game but didn’t have anyone else to watch with. I know how the game works, for the most part, or did: I used to play football, tomboy that I was.
I’m glad that it gives some people joy & camaraderie. The Packers, for instance, are actually owned by the people of Wisconsin, which I think is a damned cool thing. There is something to be said for a sport that helps people bond. There’s a lot of to be said for the lessons of winning and losing graciously, and learning how to put ego aside for the sake of a group effort.
But I am still a Gender Studies professor, and it’s nearly impossible for me to shut my critical eye. It’s not that I don’t have guilty pleasures – porn is certainly one of them – that I have conscientious qualms about enjoying. But I can’t say I partake in anything so mainstream, so culturally-validated, so intensely insisted upon. And I certainly don’t insist that anyone else who might have objections to porn like the stuff in order to hang out with me.
People might assume – because of who I am, because of what I do – that I’m somehow immune to feeling left out. I’m not. Since I think a lot too about bullying, and about how queer kids are often made to feel like they don’t fit in, I’ve been paying close attention to the things that make me feel both lonely and isolated here. I’ve considered doing an “It Gets Better” video, but this past year was not one that made me feel like it does. No, in new, acute ways, even as an adult, even if you’re known as a bit of a firebrand, a crank, or eccentric in whatever way, standing down peer pressure is still difficult. Sometimes it taxes me in ways that sadden me; I would have expected, by now, not to feel that kind of sting. But I do. I wish I didn’t. More
What an amazing story: a Brazilian volleyball player was heckled with the chant “faggot” during an uber-important match and was shaken by the incident. He came out – acknowledging that he was gay, & that everyone knew it – and the rest of him team showed support by wearing pink shirts, rainbow shirts, and unfurling a huge banner that said “Volleyball against prejudice” and fans brought thundersticks that had the player’s name on them.
Here, we pretend this is all about Kobe Bryant – as if no one else in sports uses these kinds of slurs! Please.: the whole “I didn’t mean gay people when I used ‘fag’ as an insult” is so 1994. There is absolutely no excuse for anyone to use words that have been used to oppress, intimidate and threaten people of whatever minority group anymore.
(h/to to SS!)
Surprisingly sympathetic, no?
I’ve known other (trans) women in roller derbies before, but I’m happy to see an official policy by a women’s organization siding in favor of inclusion. Bethany Johnson said:
“We’ve yet to send out a formal press release regarding this, but we are very proud of the diversity represented by our league and we’re glad that our league can be one of the leagues to formally create a policy allowing transwomen skaters . . . For The Chicago Outfit, I think that having this policy is another step for our league to show how open and accepting of women from all walks of life we are. This policy also hopefully will help to continue the legitimization of transwomen athletes in this sport in other leagues throughout the country.”
Although “allows” really chafes, even if the person who said it is trans herself.
Because I live in Wisconsin where football – or at least Packers – is a state religion, I’ve been poking around the edges of the thing because I don’t get it, and I’m absolutely sure it’s not because I mind beer, yelling, processed foods and funny hats. Beer + yelling + processed foods + funny hats are my idea of a good time, generally speaking.
I came across this sentence the other day. at change.org:
The trafficking of children for sale at the Super Bowl is well documented.
And I was honestly flabbergasted: not surprised, because where men with money gather, children are sold for sexual pleasure. Still, it’s sickening. So many people watch and play football because it’s fun — shoot, even I go to Super Bowl parties! What a way to mess up an otherwise (mostly) harmless sports event.