• Petitioned The International Olympic Committee

This petition was delivered to:

The International Olympic Committee

Stop the archaic practice of “gender testing” for female Olympic athletes.

    1. Lauren  Rosenbaum
    2. Petition by

      Lauren Rosenbaum

      Denver, CO

A July 26 article in The Daily Beast discussed the possibility of world-record holding South African 800M runner Caster Semenya being disqualified from the Olympic games due to antiquated assumptions about gender and athletics.

The International Olympic Committee has employed various methods to test the gender of women whom they assume are too successful in their sports to be “real” women. In the 1960s, they IOC forced these women to march in “nude parades,” where they marched naked in front of a panel of judges who determined whether or not they appeared female enough to compete. These methods have generally been proven unsuccessful, yet rather than abandon them, the committee continues to come up with dubious ways to determine a woman’s gender. Their current approach is to test the amount of testosterone that naturally occurs in a woman’s body (note: synthetic testosterone, which may be taken as a performance enhancer, is easy to test for. These tests are not looking for synthetic testosterone). The Times of India reported this week that Santhi Soundarajan, the Indian 800M runner whose 2006 silver medal was revoked after a gender test, currently works in a brick kiln, earning 200 rupees (about $3.50) a day.

High levels of testosterone are not uncommon in women, athletes or not. The proportion of women with higher than average testosterone may even be rising, according to neuropath Beau Patrick, due to the high-stress nature of the society in which we currently live. High testosterone levels in woman are often associated with athletic prowess in medical literature, indicating that women who make it to the Olympic games are more likely than others to have this hormone imbalance in the first place. Nevertheless, the IOC only submits women to this degrading process who do not seem to fit with the societal ideal of femininity (read: white and thin). Further, men who excel in sports such as ice skating and synchronized swimming are never forced to undergo tests to determine their masculinity.

According to socio-medical scientist Rebecca Jordan-Young, the IOC’s gender policies are “based more on folklore than precise science.” Little information is available on the prevalence of high testosterone in women or the precise benefits and risks of this hormone imbalance. Jordan-Young noted in a paper she co-authored with Katrina Karkazis of Stanford’s Center for Biomedical Ethics that women who are unable to process androgens, including testosterone, also excel in athletics. Further, the hormone therapies that women are forced to undergo in order to compete may cause undue health risks in women who are otherwise healthy (they are olympians, after all!). The Daily Beast notes that studies have found hormone replacement therapies to be associated with breast cancer, ovarian cancer, strokes, and heart attacks.

Caster Semenya carried the flag for her native South Africa in the 2012 Olympic opening ceremonies. Commentators remarked that she might not be able to compete due to the results of her gender tests. Wouldn’t it be nice if they could simply celebrate her success as a world-record holder and cheer her on? Sign this petition if you would like the IOC to join us in the 21st century!

Recent signatures

    News

    1. Reached 100 signatures
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      Lauren  Rosenbaum
      Petition Organizer

      Just 5 more signatures and we will reach 100! Please help this petition gain visibility by sharing it with any organizations you might be involved with, and by posting it on Facebook, Twitter, etc.!

    3. Reached 50 signatures
    4. Thank you Rock the Slut Vote for sharing my petition!

      Lauren  Rosenbaum
      Petition Organizer

      This petition would not have come to the attention of so many badass "slutty" voters without your help! Please share this petition with your friends so that we can reach 100 signatures! Also share the Rock the Slut Vote page because we need all the allies we can get to make sure our voices are heard in November!

    5. Reached 25 signatures

    Supporters

    Reasons for signing

    • M N LAKEWOOD, OH
      • about 2 years ago

      If men are not being submitted to similar testing it is not fair.Without testing both you will never find the answer to what makes a man a man and what makes a woman a woman.I don't think a sporting authority should have the right to conduct this research or require anyone to undergo "treatment". It is unconscionable to discriminate against someone for their biology. These officials don't know what a "normal" woman or a "normal" man is because such research is not being conducted in the general population. Usain Bolt is freakishly good but no one is examining his private parts or calling him a cheater, or a woman. Caster has had her moment in the sun destroyed-like many women who are afraid to compete in sports for fear of being seen as too manly or having their sexuality questioned. Bias must cease.

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    • David Soto D.F, MEXICO
      • about 2 years ago

      My point of view is that if a girl have 3 times the limit of normal testosterone of a normal female should not compete with normal girls, and it is not discrimination. Its like in the box, judo, weightlifting, there are categories, and a 59kg person dont compete with the 69kg person, and this is not discrimination, is make a fair competence. She need to enter in other category and if this category doesnt exist because she is unique in the world, it must not doom all the rest of the normal females that besides dont see positive for a woman be intersex quite rightly.

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    • Miguel Lozano D.F., MEXICO
      • about 2 years ago

      This text say "dubious ways to determine a woman’s gender", "high levels of testosterone are not uncommon in women", "proportion of women with higher than average testosterone may even be rising" "hormone therapies that women are forced to undergo in order to compete may cause undue health risks in women who are otherwise health" But in any moment say hard datas and a objective and scientific analisis.

      Besides ignore that the problem of Semeneya go much more further an extraordinary amount of testosterone that exceeded for much the variations of testosterone talked in the text. She have XY chromosome, she doesnt have womb, ovaries but have internal testicules, even she have external female genitales and low sesibility to testosterone. She is all except a true woman.

      Now, it is a lie that it have to be dubious to determine a womans gender; a genetic and anatomic test (including internal organs) and a testosterone test is very specific and objective. Second, it is clear that not all the women will have exactly the same testosterone, the point is only set limits; and for this we need hard datas about the real frequency of these variations, keeping in mind that if someone have an advantage for something that is clearly a disease this person should not compite with the healthy people. But the most important thing is that as happen with Semenya, if the hormone variations come from internal testicules or XY chromosomes, thera are not discusion about she cant enter in the clasification of female.

      Now, If we are talking about genetic and anatomic females that have excess of testosterone, the discussion would have sense, and you could talk about "the hormone therapies that women are forced to undergo in order to compete may cause undue health risks in women who are otherwise health". But as I know it is not true and there arent these risks for control anormal amounts of testosterone in a woman, like in case of polycystic ovaries (and in other side it doesnt increase the level of testosterone that much as you supose). Anyway if a natural variation of testosterone dont damage in nothing the health of the woman, this variation should to be used to set the limits of the normal variation of testosterone for women. It is a fact that when the amount of testosterone is too high in a woman body she has amenorrhea, permanent fertility problems, growing of clitoris, between many other problems, and these cant be considered like healhy for the a woman.

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    • Miguel Lozano D.F., MEXICO
      • about 2 years ago

      Tara Logan, Semenya have a Y chromosome and internal testicules besides external women genitalea, "she" is not a woman, she is an intersex.

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    • Judy Govindsamy LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM
      • about 2 years ago

      Growing up in South Africa is a struggle in itself and after she achieved so much for the IOC to put her through this is appalling!Sexism at its extreme is what this is. She has talent and I think people feel threatened by her skill

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