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What is a real woman?

August 7, 2008

The Olympic authorities are testing female athletes to make sure they’re real women.

The interesting thing about all this is that the Olympic committee makes exceptions for women who are transgender. So, openly trans women are allowed to compete unmolested by embarrassing tests as long as they have had full surgeries, two years worth of hormone replacement therapy, etc. That means that the women most negatively affected by this testing are women who are still transitioning, or women who may have lived their whole lives as women, but who test male when their chromosomes are analyzed (they might be XXY).


What is a real woman, then?

I’ve been trying to answer this question for a long time. Does feeling like a woman make you a woman? I’d say yes. But what if you say you feel like a woman, but your gender presentation is totally male? Butch women come to mind, and they’re definitely women; but what about those guys who say they’re lesbians trapped in men’s bodies? I mean the jerks, not the transwomen who really are lesbians trapped in male bodies.

I guess it’s jerks like these that the Olympians are trying to stop. But what cisgendered guy would seriously pretend to be a transwoman, for the whole world to see? It’s hard enough for real transpeople; I don’t think a cisperson could take it. So maybe they should just trust people’s gender statement. Genitals, hormones and chromosomes don’t even matter: not all transpeople go through sex reassignment surgery, and many skip hormones altogether.

And what about genderqueer people? Should they be able to choose what category to participate in? I can’t even pick what bathroom to go to, for heck’s sake! Although it’s probably your legal sex that matters.

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