poetics, time, body disruption and marginally queer solutions

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Sexuality, Drugs and the Ideal of Sport

THE Olympic Games take place in Athens this month, even as an investigation into the use of steroids has led to suspicions that some of the biggest names in track and field, as well as other sports, are using banned drugs. That makes this an awkward time for the International Olympic Committee to decide, as it did in May, that transsexuals may compete openly in the Games. None are expected to participate this time, but the decision raises difficult questions about the nature of sports achievement.

Does allowing a small number of athletes to take large doses of hormones threaten to undermine the international effort to rid sports of performance-enhancing drugs? As a columnist for The Irish Times wrote, because the decision "officially brings into the international sporting community athletes who have undergone a radical and life-altering course of hormone treatment, it is bound to provide a further smoke screen for the malevolent practitioners of science who engineer the substances that seduce athletes."

To proponents of transsexuals' inclusion, the issue is fairness. Dr. Joe Leigh Simpson, a member of the I.O.C. committee that made the decision and a professor at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, said it was not fair to leave them without a place to compete.

But others disagree. "Men have an inherent advantage in sports that rely on strength, speed and power," said Libba Galloway, senior vice president and chief legal officer for the Ladies Professional Golf Association, which requires that members and players at its events be born as women. "The concern is that these people would still have a greater muscle mass and other physiological advantages over someone who was born a woman."


Growing up gay
For some teenagers the struggle is for acceptance
By Katya Cengel
The Courier-Journal

"I thought it was just a phase," says Nick Yenner, fiddling with his backpack. "I never thought I would turn out like this."

"This" being an energetic 16-year-old Iroquois High School junior with pink-tipped blond hair and a firm handshake. A friendly teen who is a member of Air Force ROTC and a lifeguard.

And gay.

Nick's first inkling that he was a little different came in middle school when he became more interested in boys than girls. He says he figured it was something he would outgrow or be able to change. By junior high, he realized he couldn't change his attraction to boys. But it was something he could keep secret.

And he did.Because in his world, being gay is not a good thing.

By the numbers

3: Number of times gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) youths are more likely to attempt suicide than their peers.

84: Percentage of GLBT students who report being verbally harassed.

39.1: Percentage of GLBT students who report being physically harassed because of their sexual orientation.

64.3: Percentage of students who report feeling unsafe at their schools because of sexual orientation.

28.6: Percentage of GLBT students who report missing at least one day of school in the past month because they felt unsafe.

Sources: Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics; and the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network 2003 National School Climate Survey.


Medicare covers donor tests
By Jen Kelly

SINGLE women and lesbians have secretly won the right to taxpayer-funded fertility treatment.
The radical switch - designed to beat a Victorian state ban - is certain to cause controversy as it allows so-called "socially infertile" women to inseminate themselves with the help of Victoria's IVF clinics.

If do-it-yourself home insemination fails four times, the women can be deemed medically infertile and granted full access to IVF.

Until now, lesbians and single women who are not medically infertile have been banned from all fertility treatment in Victoria.


Hate fliers land on Newton lawns
By Laurel J. Sweet

Hate literature condemning desegregation and homosexuality was found littering lawns on Noble Street in West Newton yesterday.

     The controversial National Alliance of West Virginia took credit for one of the drops, a flier made to look like a ``missing child'' poster seeking ``a future for white children.''

     ``This is a pack of hateful people. They're trying to recruit,'' said David Green, spokesman for the Anti-Defamation League of New England. ``It's really an assault on democratic values


Making the case for gay marriage Attorney Evan Wolfson draws on history in "Why Marriage Matters"

If every copy of Evan Wolfson's book "Why Marriage Matters: America, Equality, and Gay People's Right to Marry" came equipped with a Global Positioning System, most copies would probably be found resting on coffee tables of folks who already agree with him about same-sex marriage.

But preaching to the choir isn't altogether bad because this is one useful book. Armed with Wolfson's arguments, you could sell anyone with an IQ over room temperature on the wisdom and humanity of marriage equality.

It may surprise some that "Why Marriage Matters" is not angrier, or at least betraying more exasperation. Wolfson's done his time in the equal-rights trenches, including a dozen years with Lambda Legal Defense & Education Fund, where he fought for gays in the military and against insurance companies denying coverage to AIDS patients.

Instead, Wolfson adopts a patient tone and explains that marriage is a basic right and one that protects committed couples and their children without threatening heterosexual marriage or so-called traditional family values. He does so by reviewing the history of marriage, gathering points from relevant court cases at all levels and excerpting thoughtful commentators' work, then gluing it all together with common sense.


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