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Books, Journals, New Media
March 24/31, 1999

Hermaphrodites: Hermaphrodites and the Medical Invention of Sex

Author Affiliations

Harriet S.MeyerMD, Contributing EditorJonathan D.EldredgeMLS, PhD, Journal Review EditorRobertHoganMD, adviser for new media


Not Available

JAMA. 1999;281(12):1138-1139. doi:10.1001/jama.281.12.1138-JBK0324-2-1

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) in our dimorphic (two-sex only) world mandates for all women competitors a buccal smear for XY chromosomes (rather than for each to appear nude before a panel of doctors). In 1992, DNA tests were used instead and criticized as being too sensitive. Several renowned geneticists protest all such sex testing as absurd and discriminatory because there is so wide a spectrum of existing intersex conditions. It has been said (unverified because the IOC claimed confidentiality of records) that 1:500 women were disqualified in this way from the 1996 Olympic Games. The impact on the lives of the athletes involved remains an untold story. The IOC goal is to eliminate unfairness, eg, female impersonators or transsexuals. The International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF) favors a physical examination report by the woman athlete's own physician, but spot-check examinations may be done by IAAF physicians.