Sports Artical on The Issue of Sex Verification in Sports, Our Perceptions of Sex,


Sex verification in sports involves determination and verification of gender and sex of athletes to determine their eligibility to compete between the two sets of sex recognized by the sports organizations and agencies, namely male or females (Padawer, par 1). In single sex competitions, the athletes associations in charge consider different factors to verify the athletes’sex and gender to classify them as either males or females. Sex determination in sports has had mixed reactions and debates that argue against the factors considered in sex determinism. There are only two genders consider by the sports and athletes associationsto determine sex and this complicates the cases of transgender or intersex. There is no fair standard of sex verification sports following the complications and influences that genetic variations pose to either sexes.

The Complications of Biologically Determining Sex and Gender in Sports

The biological researches provide the means of determining sexes in humans. Normally, any individual with the XY chromosomes is male while the other with XX chromosomes is female. Modern research on genetic, physiological and chromosomal variationsexpose that there are chances that a female fetus with an active gene called SRY would turn out to be male. The gene may work on the X chromosome and not on the Y chromosome and either way may cause different sexes. When it does not work on the Y chromosomes then the fetus develops essentially as female.

There are cases that even on the male fetus with the XY chromosomes the SRY gene may give it some physiological aspects of a female. The gene can deactivate the hormones that make males masculine due to lack of androgens in the fetus (Padawer, par 8).  The physical characteristics of the fetus at maturity defers from that of the female by the extent of airs on the genitals. The physical characteristics of the person’s genitals depends on the presence of androgen hormone in the body. The women athletes with androgen insensitivity syndrome are less masculine compared to the normal women and can be classified as men for they have Y chromosomes in their genetic makeup. For this reason; the presence of Y-chromosomes, they are classified as males and are often directed to participate in sports as males. The competition can’t be fair to these females with androgen insensitivity syndrome as they are not completely male.

The sport organizations often use the presence of a penis or vagina in determining the sex of the athlete. These are not the only factors to consider in determining the sex of an athlete for there are people born with physical characteristics of females but are biologically female only that they have the androgen insensitivity syndrome(Camporesi, 3).  People can look like females from the outside, by considering the broad hips, breasts and others, but are males genetically. Those who have two genital characteristics can be subjected to specific gender roles following the sex the parents preferred.

The cases of Caster Semenya and  Dutee Chand portrays the effect of hyper-androgen syndrome on females that lead to the development of muscles in the female and is an advantage to the female athletes (Padawer, par 11). Hyperandrogenism increases the masculinity due to the presence of high levels of testosterone hormone, in the females and though gives the athletes an advantage over their typical female counterparts, cannot be used to single them out from a females competition. There are other biological and physiological factors that give same sex athletes unfair advantages over others but are not the basis of determining sex.

Scientifically, there approximately 200 genetic variations that interfere with the physical characteristics of a person and give advantage to the sportsman (Camporesi, 2). The genetic variations have effects on various physiological processes in the human body such as muscle structure, energy productivity, and blood flow to the muscles and lactate turnover. The genetic variations do not form the basis of sex determinism and the cases of Semenya and Dutee are no exceptions. In the endurance races, there are athletes with mitochondrial mutations and variations that enhance aerobic processes and thus the ability to endure long races.


The sports and athletics associations and governing bodies do not consider the effects of various genetic variations that could enhance the performance of athletes as sex determinants. There is no position of determining the standards of determining sex in athletes for the standards of a typical female or males are on genitals, pubic air, and labia. The various genetic variations in the chromosomes or genes do not classify the transgender and intersex to be of a different sex.The two sexes recognized by the sports agencies are either females or males and the genetic variations on the males and females may affect the physical outlook of the person. The environmental factors also affect the physiological and genetic make up of an athlete and can cause an advantage or a disadvantage to the athlete depending on the defects. The genetic variations, biological, physiological and environmental factors that influence sex and gender in humans, make it complex to develop a standard of determining sex in sports.


Works Cited:

Camporesi, Silvia. “Why Caster Semenya and Dutee Chand deserve to compete and Win at Rio 2016.” The Conversation. 2016. (Attached)

Padawer, Ruth.“The Humiliating Practice of Sex-Testing Female Athletes.” The New York Times Magazine. 2016. Retrieved: