Boundaries of Sex in Competitive Sport

It seems like one would consider those who do steroids having a competitive advantage in sport over those that do not. As well, that males evidently have an unfair advantage over females in sports. From reading the article by Cheryl Cooky and Shari Dworkin about the boundaries of sex and gender verification in sport, similarities can be found regarding doping and disorders of sexual development (DSDs).

As discussed in this article, a female with DSDs has a competitive advantage over the rest of the field of women in sport. It takes testing to discover these DSDs and some are in a very broad term. In addition, sport has two genders; male and female. This sounds strikingly familiar with doping in sports. For one, it gives the beholder an advantage over the competitors. Secondly, it takes testing to discover who is, and who is not doping. Finally, it is separated from those who do dope, and those who do not. Although not exactly like gender ambiguity, it has significant similarities that could make one wonder; Why not randomly test individuals of DSDs as well as doping?

Another question arises when thinking of the case of Caster Semenya, a female track star who won the 800 meters gold medal in the World Championships in 2009. She had been tested to verify her gender and it makes on contemplate; If she were to not pass the gender verification test, would she be able to compete in male races? This is an interesting notion, as she would now be unable to compete with females, however she is decisively not a male. Where does one fit in in this case?

Another thing that I question is how a disorder of sexual development lead to one being banned from a sport? It is essentially a genetic mutation, something natural that one could be born with. Like how a tall player may have an advantage playing basketball, Michael Phelps having a perfect body type for swimming, etc. These are all natural occurrences that one may be born with, and as long as it is not genetically modified or drug infused, I feel that it should be legitimate.

Related article:

Cheryl Cooky & Shari L. Dworkin (2013) Policing the Boundaries of Sex: A Critical Examination
of Gender Verification and the Caster Semenya Controversy, Journal of Sex Research, 50:2, 103-111

Hartley Mendelsohn

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