poetics, time, body disruption and marginally queer solutions

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

The rise and fall of gender testing
by Patricia Nell Warren

In the late '90s, as the Olympic Games finally dropped its long-hated requirement for women's gender testing, the Gay Games stumbled into hot water with its own gender policies. First, the 1998 Amsterdam Games required competitors who had changed their birth gender to the opposite gender to provide medical proof of "completed gender transition." Organizers also decreed that mixed-sex couples (including transgendered persons who couldn't prove "transition" on paper) would not be allowed in the ballroom-dancing event. Then, the 2002 Sydney Games tried a different tack, by dividing competitions into two divisions: "male" or "female." Everybody, including transgendered and intersex athletes, had to choose a category to compete in, based on passport or birth certificate gender.

Writing for Independent Gay Forum, Stephen H. Miller argued: "You'd think this would be a no-brainer. After all, the reason that men compete against men, and women against women, is because the male body is, well, different from the female body, and same-sex competition ensures a level playing field, genderwise." Curiously, this was almost the same language that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) had used to defend its gender testing for nearly four decades. Some GLBT athletes and activists bristled at both Gay Games' rules.

As the Gay Games wrestles with gender policy, the real reason why gender became an issue at the Olympic Games, back in the mid-1900s, is almost forgotten -- along with the two Soviet sisters whose "masculine" appearance pushed gender testing into place.


Protest at attempt to subsidise gays going straight

Rio De Janeiro: Gay Brazilians readied yesterday to battle a bill in state legislature to subsidise homosexuals for going straight, activist Claudio Nascimento said.

"The bill to give aid to homosexuals who want to become heterosexual is a political insult, which jeopardises the prestige of the Legislative Assembly," the leader of the Rainbow Group said. "We expect it to fail."

The bill was drafted by Christian Democrat deputy Edino Fonseca to create an "aid programme for persons who voluntarily opt to change their sexual orientation."

Already, the constitution and the justice committees have approved it. Both are chaired by evangelicals.

Fonseca said: "We do not think homosexuality is a disease, but an acquired habit that can be broken."

"Fonseca has an 18th century outlook," Nascimento said.


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