Forget Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus.
The Stanford campus is abuzz with the latest research on gender.
Prepare to be surprised.
By Sally Lehrman
the eve of one of the most
important events of their lives, Jennifer Azzi, Jenny Thompson, Regina
Jacobs and other Stanford athletes had to prove they were women. Using a
highly sensitive test, doctors at the Olympic Games last year searched
for traces of a Y chromosome to make sure the competitors were not men
Since the 1960s, the International Olympic Committee has verified the
sex of athletes entering womens events. Over the years, the 13 women
who have failed the test have had to develop a sudden illness, injury or
another reason to explain their withdrawal. Secure until that moment in
their identity as women, they were suddenly thrown into traumatic
uncertainty about their sex.
The apparently clear-cut test that undermined these athletic careers
belies an increasingly complex understanding of sexual identity. The
very science that enables sex testing is demonstrating that simple
definitions are no longer biologically sound. An individuals genes,
chromosomes, anatomy and psychosocial sex characteristics may not
always agree. Try as they might, researchers are having trouble stuffing
human biology into two distinct boxes labeled male and female.
Gender is much more than a biochemical construct, says Andrew Pipe,
former president of the Canadian Academy of Sports Medicine and chair of
the Canadian Center for Ethics in Sport. Its bizarre to think you can
determine whether someone is male or female based on one of these