From Cold War to War on Terror: “Femininity Control” Tests to “Gender Verification” in International Women’s Sports

Valerie Moyer, Stony Brook University, State University of New York (SUNY)

Various forms of “sex testing” have been employed within elite women’s sports since they were allowed to compete in the modern Olympic Games. Starting in the late 1960s, during the Cold War era, chromosomal checks were institutionalized and mandated across all sports within the Olympic movement. This has shifted recently, in the 1990s and early 2000s, to a case-by-case testing practice. These policies are of course shaped by geopolitical processes and conflicts- namely the Cold War and now the so-called War on Terror. Despite the supposedly “objective” testing practices, these controls mark certain bodies as non-feminine and in fact, threatening. This paper takes the non-state sports governing bodies’ policies as its archive to track the changes in language and procedure which reflect larger societal and geopolitical shifts. I argue that these shifts are not necessarily markers of progress, but instead, are simply reacting to different political agendas and enacting different understandings of sex and gender. The changes in surveillance practices also lead to context-specific modes of refusal and resistance to the policies.

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 136. The Political (AB) Uses of Sources and Theories to control Gendered Bodies