“They say I’m not a girl”

Case Studies of Gender Verification in Elite Sports


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About the Book

In July 1950, a young Dutch intersex woman was expelled from elite competition by the International Amateur Athletic Federation. It turned out to be the beginning of a dark era in the history of women in sport. Young women were subjected to humiliating examinations and dozens of intersex athletes were suspended, although no fraud was ever uncovered. This book presents a compelling argument against gender verification, showing the pernicious effects that suspension inflicted on the lives of young athletes. Some withdrew from the public eye, lived in solitude, or even committed suicide. Compassionate profiles of these banned athletes highlight the unfair play of gender verification and of their exclusion from competition.

About the Author(s)

Max Dohle is a sports historian specializing in gender aspects of elite competition. He lives in the Netherlands.

Bibliographic Details

Max Dohle
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 179
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2020
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7378-3
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3701-3
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface: The Humiliating Practice of Gender Verification 1
Preliminaries: The ­Man-Woman Athlete in the 1930s; or, Gender Reassignment in ­Pre-War Sport 5
The ­XX-Games: A Short History of Gender Verification 27
Dora Ratjen: “Da sei etwas nicht in Ordnung” 43
Foekje Dillema: “They say I’m not a girl” 54
Ewa Klobukowska: One Chromosome Too Many 70
Erika Schinegger: Gender Born or Gender Made? 79
Stella Walsh: The Murder of the Polish Flyer 90
Maria José Martinez Patiño: The First Protest 103
Blackmail and Suicide 112
Sarah Gronert: Tennis Anyone? 126
Caster Semenya and Dutee Chand: Changing the Rules 134
Chapter Notes 157
Bibliography 165
Index 171