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February 12, 1992

Sex Testing in International Athletics A Small Step Forward

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Internal Medicine, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas.

JAMA. 1992;267(6):853. doi:10.1001/jama.1992.03480060099039

As described in the report by Ljungqvist and Simpson for the International Amateur Athletic Federation's work group,1 gender verification tests were introduced into competitive sports in the 1960s because of the widespread belief that individuals, either acting alone or under some type of coercion, might masquerade as the opposite sex so as to gain advantage in athletic competition. This practice poses two issues: one, whether testing of any type is desirable, and two, if testing is to be performed, what type of test would be best?

See also p 850.

As to whether testing should be done, it must be emphasized that both the mechanisms for anatomical sexual differentiation and the mechanisms for development of gender identity—the feeling by an individual of maleness or femaleness—are poorly understood. Sex is determined ultimately by the chromosome composition (46,XX being female and 46,XX male), but the initial development of embryos of both