Gender testing and the ‘policing of femininity’ in sports addressed in Paris19 May 2015


In 2012, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) adopted a new policy that stated that for a woman to compete in track and field events, her testosterone must not exceed the male threshold. In cases she does, she must have surgery or receive hormone therapy and submit to regular monitoring.

The measure, close to the one adopted by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), aimed to prevent female athletes with high levels of natural testosterone (“female hyperandrogenism”) from possessing an “unfair” advantage over their competitors, following cases such as the one of the South African runner Caster Semenya, who made the world’s headlines in 2009 when the IAAF flagged the 800-meter world champion for gender testing.

The way the organisation handled Semenya’s case drew criticism from around the globe and is still today a controversial topic in sports.

The “Prouve-nous que tu es une femme! Tests de féminité et autres formes de contrôle du corps des sportives” (in English, Prove to me why you are a woman! Policing of femininity in sports) panel discussion will be second event the LGBT rights group organises with the sporting community and the general public to debate the policy and promote the rights of female athletes in sport.

The event, supported by the Paris city council, will count with the participation of Anaïs Bohuon, author of the book ‘Le test de féminité dans les compétitions sportives’ (Femininity tests at sporting events), and the former Swiss alpine skier Chantal Bournissen.

The discussion will take place in the 20th arrondissement of the French capital, one of the city’s largest districts, between 7-9pm this evening.