Gender Testing at the Olympics

Believe it or not, the IOC actually demands that supicious female athletes undergo gender testing in order to verify that they are female.

For more than a year, officials in Beijing have been designing a special laboratory to determine the sex of any athletes taking part in this year’s Olympic games. “Suspected athletes will be evaluated from their external appearances by experts and undergo blood tests to examine their sex hormones, genes and chromosomes for sex determination,” says Professor Tian Qinjie.

Apparently this is something that has been going on in the Olympics since 1968, and has come under scrutiny because apparently being a woman is not as simple as X and Y…

It is thought that around one in 1,000 babies are born with an “intersex” condition, the general term for people with chromosomal abnormalities. It may be physically obvious from birth – babies may have ambiguous reproductive organs, for instance – or it may remain unknown to people all their lives.

The article goes on to show some very intriguing examples of gender confusion among the women athletes thoughout Olympic history.

This is definitely a controversial and dubious practice, made only more complicated by the fact that transgender athletes can compete as well two years after their operations to become female. To be a woman in the Olympics can mean a significant amount of embarassment.

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