Good enough? The ‘wicked’ use of testosterone for defining femaleness in women’s sport

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Since the 1930s, sports administrators have insisted on various mechanisms to assess ‘femaleness’ for the purpose of competition in women’s sport. Most recently, the criterion has turned to testosterone. Specifically, if a woman naturally produces testosterone that registers in what sport authorities consider an ‘unnatural’ range, she must suppress that testosterone to compete in women’s events. The testosterone threshold will undoubtedly expand to include cis, intersex, and trans sportswomen, despite their respective and significant differences. Taken together, these types of regulations are confusing and contradictory, quite possibly sexist, and most assuredly ‘wicked’, as Rittel and Webber formulated with regard to ‘wicked problems’. A historical analysis of the regulations for ‘femaleness’ in sport, contextualized with other testosterone-related policies, reveals the impossibility of sex determination, the faulty assertion that testosterone is a ‘male hormone’, and the prioritization of sporting rights over human rights.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalSport in Society
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019

Fingerprint

Sports
regulation
historical analysis
human rights
event

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies

Cite this

@article{18795fafa8944f2a98a80310b6fa7a0e,
title = "Good enough? The ‘wicked’ use of testosterone for defining femaleness in women’s sport",
abstract = "Since the 1930s, sports administrators have insisted on various mechanisms to assess ‘femaleness’ for the purpose of competition in women’s sport. Most recently, the criterion has turned to testosterone. Specifically, if a woman naturally produces testosterone that registers in what sport authorities consider an ‘unnatural’ range, she must suppress that testosterone to compete in women’s events. The testosterone threshold will undoubtedly expand to include cis, intersex, and trans sportswomen, despite their respective and significant differences. Taken together, these types of regulations are confusing and contradictory, quite possibly sexist, and most assuredly ‘wicked’, as Rittel and Webber formulated with regard to ‘wicked problems’. A historical analysis of the regulations for ‘femaleness’ in sport, contextualized with other testosterone-related policies, reveals the impossibility of sex determination, the faulty assertion that testosterone is a ‘male hormone’, and the prioritization of sporting rights over human rights.",
author = "Jaime Schultz",
year = "2019",
month = "1",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1080/17430437.2019.1703684",
language = "English (US)",
journal = "Sport in Society",
issn = "1461-0981",
publisher = "Taylor and Francis Ltd.",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Good enough? The ‘wicked’ use of testosterone for defining femaleness in women’s sport

AU - Schultz, Jaime

PY - 2019/1/1

Y1 - 2019/1/1

N2 - Since the 1930s, sports administrators have insisted on various mechanisms to assess ‘femaleness’ for the purpose of competition in women’s sport. Most recently, the criterion has turned to testosterone. Specifically, if a woman naturally produces testosterone that registers in what sport authorities consider an ‘unnatural’ range, she must suppress that testosterone to compete in women’s events. The testosterone threshold will undoubtedly expand to include cis, intersex, and trans sportswomen, despite their respective and significant differences. Taken together, these types of regulations are confusing and contradictory, quite possibly sexist, and most assuredly ‘wicked’, as Rittel and Webber formulated with regard to ‘wicked problems’. A historical analysis of the regulations for ‘femaleness’ in sport, contextualized with other testosterone-related policies, reveals the impossibility of sex determination, the faulty assertion that testosterone is a ‘male hormone’, and the prioritization of sporting rights over human rights.

AB - Since the 1930s, sports administrators have insisted on various mechanisms to assess ‘femaleness’ for the purpose of competition in women’s sport. Most recently, the criterion has turned to testosterone. Specifically, if a woman naturally produces testosterone that registers in what sport authorities consider an ‘unnatural’ range, she must suppress that testosterone to compete in women’s events. The testosterone threshold will undoubtedly expand to include cis, intersex, and trans sportswomen, despite their respective and significant differences. Taken together, these types of regulations are confusing and contradictory, quite possibly sexist, and most assuredly ‘wicked’, as Rittel and Webber formulated with regard to ‘wicked problems’. A historical analysis of the regulations for ‘femaleness’ in sport, contextualized with other testosterone-related policies, reveals the impossibility of sex determination, the faulty assertion that testosterone is a ‘male hormone’, and the prioritization of sporting rights over human rights.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85077064278&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=85077064278&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1080/17430437.2019.1703684

DO - 10.1080/17430437.2019.1703684

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:85077064278

JO - Sport in Society

JF - Sport in Society

SN - 1461-0981

ER -