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Ensuring “Girls will be girls” Female gender verification at the

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					   Ensuring “Girls will be girls”
Female gender verification at
         the Olympic Games
History of Gender Verification
   Gender verification, also known as sex testing or
    gender testing, was introduced to female
    Olympic athletes at the 1968 games held in
    Mexico City
   They were submitted to a gender verification test
    to prove conclusively that they were in fact
    female
   Gender verification was introduced to prevent
    male athletes from masquerading as women
    where they would have a physiological
    advantage
History of Gender Verification
   This began after suspicion rose regarding the gender of some
    highly successful Eastern European athletes who appeared to
    be overly masculine, but at that time there was not a lot of
    attention being paid to steroid abuse, which could have been
    responsible for their masculine appearance and features



               Tammy Thomas who learned that
               she had been banned from cycling
               for life because of her steroid use
History of Gender Verification
   The genetic test
    introduced in 1968 was
    the Barr Body test, also
    known as the Buccal
    smear test
   This genetic test looked
    for the presence of two
    complete X
    chromosomes, and no
    Y chromosomes.
History of Gender Verification
    In 1992 at the winter games in Albertville, France,
    Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) became the
    standardized test used.
   The PCR test amplifies the DNA taken from a
    specimen, and allows for the detection of the Y
    chromosome gene, SRY (Sex-determining Region
    of Y)
   Typically, it is the absence of the Y chromosome
    that triggers the development of femaleness.
    However, a faulty SRY gene on the Y chromosome
    can have the same effect
History of Gender Verification

   An average of 1 in 500 female athletes being
    Y-positive is considered to be normal in world
    class competition
   If a female athlete „failed‟ the gender
    verification test, they could be stripped of
    their medals and banned from further
    competition
History of Gender Verification
   In 1999, just before the Sydney Australia
    Olympics, routine gender testing of every
    female athlete was modified, but still used to
    some extent in Beijing
   Instead of testing every single female athlete,
    only those who are considered suspect by
    the IOC are targeted.
Modern Gender Verification
   The Beijing lab determines gender according
    to four factors:
       clinical observation
       sexual hormones
       Chromosomes
       genes
Reasons for Failed Sex Texts
   Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome where the
    athlete has the genes of a man, but the cells
    are incapable of responding to the male
    hormone testosterone.
   Gonadal Dysgenesis where the individual will
    be genotypically male (ie: XY) yet will
    possess female-like internal and external
    reproductive characteristics.
Supporters of Gender Testing
   Prince Alexander de
    Merode: former head of
    the Olympic medical
    commission denied that
    sex testing infringed
    upon the rights and
    freedoms of athletes:
    “There freedom is to
    decide if they wish to
    compete.”
Critics of Gender Testing
   In 1975 Dr. Daniel Hanely (a member of the
    IOC‟s medical committee) argued against the
    procedure, saying that it was “an expensive
    over-reaction to a remote possibility.”
   Arne Ljungqvist, the current chairman of the
    IOC‟s medical commission, believes that “It
    was unethical, unscientific and a
    discriminatory practice”
   He helped abolish the blanket testing
Results of Gender Verification
   Throughout the history of the modern
    Olympic Games, there has never been a
    male athlete who has been caught trying to
    pass as a female:
       - In 1996, eight female athletes failed sex
       tests but were all cleared on appeal
       - Maria Patino: disqualified and was
       stripped of her titles
The Exception to the Rule
                  Dora Ratjen came 4th at the
                  1936 Olympic Games in
                  high jump, but later
                  admitted that he had been a
                  member of the Hitler Youth,
                  and the Nazis had forced
                  him to enter as a woman.
                  This is the only confirmed
                  incident of a male
                  competing as a female, and
                  it occurred long before
                  gender verification.
My Opinion
   With the uniforms that are
    now worn by female
    athletes at the Olympics,
    and with the more intense
    anti-doping urine tests that
    are administered where an
    official watches the athlete
    provide a sample, it is near
    impossible for a male to
    masquerade as a female
My Opinion

   I personally do not
    believe that gender
    verification in any
    capacity is needed.
   These tests are
    invasive and degrading,
    and are no longer
    required
Questions


   Do you think that there is still need to perform
    Gender Verification tests at high level athletic
    competitions?
Questions
 With the 1 in 500 chances of a high level
 female athlete „failing‟ a genetic test, do you
 believe that PCR is an appropriate way to
 test suspect athletes to see if they are
 masquerading as a male or simply have a
 genetic disorder? Or do you believe that
 money should go into developing a more
 accurate test to be performed initially so the
 athlete will not have the possibility of having
 their medals stripped?
Questions

				
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posted:4/6/2010
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