Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Sex tests for female athletes

Hmmm. On Radio 4 tonight was a programme called 'The Sex Test'. It looked into whether 'new guidelines on gender testing will mean a level playing-field for female athletes'.

It was interesting listening. It covered such topics as women with a Y chromosome, and those with (for various reasons) high testosterone levels. But strangely there wasn't a word about transsexual women. I thought that was very odd, because the more extreme chromosomal disorders (for instance) are quite rare, and surely rarer than the incidence of post-operative trans women in the sporting population. I personally know a trans woman who competes at national level in women's matches. And there must be a boatload of trans women worldwide who take part in top-level sport of various kinds.

But perhaps not at Olympic level. If not, why not? Is there nobody of sufficient ambition? Or is there a fear or assumption that a mandatory sex test would lead to the instant exposure of non-natal womanhood, with embarrassing consequences? But would or should that alone deny a properly feminised person the opportunity to compete?

Perhaps, after all, there are just no Olympic-standard trans women. I have to say that, post-transition, certainly post-op, I seem to be a whole lot floppier and weaker and more easily tired out than before. It could be my age, but I don't think so entirely. So maybe trans women are, as a group, actually less fit than most natal women! In which case, it isn't any wonder that none seem to go in for Olympic contests.

One thing you can surely guarantee, though: no trans female athlete is going to illegally enhance their testosterone level in an effort to gain a performance advantage! Not even for a gold medal.

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