Hormone Check: Critique of Olympic Rules on Sex and Gender

Wisconsin Journal of Law, Gender & Society, Vol. 31, p. 29, 2016

Western New England University School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 17-2

29 Pages Posted: 22 Nov 2016  

Erin Buzuvis

Western New England University School of Law

Date Written: 2016

Abstract

Most sports, including all Olympic sports, are divided into two categories: men's and women's. This Article first presents a history of gender testing in Olympic and international sports to illustrate why past attempts to define eligibility for women's sports have proven unfair to women with intersex conditions. It then describes the shortcomings of the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) first effort to articulate standards of eligibility for transgender athletes. In its second Part, this Article explains the more recent efforts of the IOC and the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) to define eligibility for women's sports solely on the basis of testosterone. That effort is temporarily suspended by the Court of Arbitration for Sport as applied to hyperandrogenism, but, as Part Ill explains, on grounds that could permit the rule's reinstatement if a stronger justification is presented by the IAAF.

Finally, this Article evaluates the concept of a unified hormone rule that the IOC appears to propose. After considering the strengths and weakness of alternatives to such a rule, including genderless sports and a uniform gender identity rule, this Article proposes a hybrid rule that applies a hormone standard to transgender athletes and a gender identity standard for women. This final Part seeks to rationalize the different treatment of transgender and intersex women in ways that minimize the potential for such a rule to contribute negatively to society's understanding of both gender and athletic fairness.

Keywords: Women, Athletes, Sports, Olympics, Gender Identity, Hyperandrogenism, Transgender, International Olympic Committee, IOC, International Association of Athletics Federations (IAFF), Intersex

Suggested Citation

Buzuvis, Erin, Hormone Check: Critique of Olympic Rules on Sex and Gender (2016). Wisconsin Journal of Law, Gender & Society, Vol. 31, p. 29, 2016; Western New England University School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 17-2. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2872865

Erin Buzuvis (Contact Author)

Western New England University School of Law ( email )

1215 Wilbraham Road
Springfield, MA 01119
United States

Paper statistics

Downloads
37
Abstract Views
113