While many athletes are busy training for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, some female competitors are undergoing treatment to become less masculine.
In an article at the Toronto Star, it has been revealed that the International Association of Athletics Federations have named themselves the gatekeepers of gender in sports:
“…recent rule changes by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), the governing body of track and field, state that for a woman to compete, her testosterone must not exceed the male threshold.
If it does, she must have surgery or receive hormone therapy prescribed by an expert IAAF medical panel and submit to regular monitoring. So far, at least a handful of athletes — the figure is confidential — have been prescribed treatment, but their numbers could increase. Last month, the International Olympic Committee began the approval process to adopt similar rules for the Games.”
Ok, so let’s break this down. Men are explicitly banned from using steroids to participate in higher levels of competition while female athletes undergo steroid therapy in order to compete.
What the hell?!
This is clearly gender policing, not to mention discriminatory as hell. Luckily, the scientific community is speaking out about this absolutely ridiculous double standard.
Check out this article from the Stanford School of Medicine:
“Proposed Olympic policies for testing the testosterone levels of select female athletes could discriminate against women who may not meet traditional notions of femininity and distort the scientific evidence on the relationship between testosterone, sex and athletic performance…
…They also warn that the proposed policies would not only be unfair, but also could lead to female athletes being coerced into unnecessary and potentially harmful medical treatment in order to continue competing”
I can understand that gender is a hard thing to tack down, as it is fluid. However, that is certainly not an excuse for transphobia, homophobia, or general douchebaggery (a.k.a trying to determine scientifically whether or not someone is a man or woman).
Has anyone ever asked Kobe if he’s actually a man? How about Lance Armstrong? Brett Favre? It would seem that it is usually the “fairer sex” that is placed under this kind of gender scrutiny.
What is really baffling about this whole thing is that testosterone has little to no effect on how good of an athlete you can be. There is literally no evidence that successful athletes have higher testosterone levels than less successful ones. In fact, women whose tissues do not respond to testosterone are actually over-represented in sports.
Women are capable of outstanding athletic performance, but it today’s society that is something that is strictly relegated to the boys’ club. Until the Olympic committee and the general public can get it into their heads that women are also capable of extraordinary athletic feats, female athletes are going to continue to have to put up with these ridiculous double standards.