1st Edition

Gender Verification and the Making of the Female Body in Sport A History of the Present

By Sonja Erikainen Copyright 2020
    200 Pages
    by Routledge

    198 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book critically explores the history of gender verification in international sport, to show how culture, politics, and science come together to produce "femaleness" and, consequently, the female body as we know it.

    Tracing gender verification policies and practices in sport since the 1930s till the present, the book shows how and why medical "sex tests" have been used to "verify" women athletes’ femaleness, in ways that both reflect and have shaped broader social and scientific ideas about femaleness in the process. Exploring how geopolitics, gender, class and race relations intertwined with scientific ideas about femaleness and womanhood to shape gender verification, the book shows how sports competitions became a battleground where new and old ideas about sex difference collided. By mapping the social, historical, and material instability of sex and gender, it shows why so much investment has been placed in distinguishing femaleness from maleness in sport and beyond.

    The book will be of interest to researchers, later-year undergraduate and graduate students in a broad range of areas including gender studies, sports studies, social and historical studies of science and medicine. It will also be relevant to sports policy as it historically and conceptually contextualises gender verification policies.

    1. Introduction: Gender Verification, Sex Difference and the Body

    2. Sex Instability from the 1920s to the 1950s

    3. Pure and Polluted Bodies in Cold War Sports

    4. Sex Screening and Diagnosis in the Olympics

    5. Gender Fraud and Masquerade in the 1970s and 80s

    6. Gendered Suspicions at the Turn of the Millennia

    7. The Testosterone Debate – from Hyperandrogenic Females to Biological Males

    8. The Past, Present and Future of Gender Verification and Sex Categories in Sport


    Sonja Erikainen is a research fellow at the University of Edinburgh. Her research interests cluster around social, historical and ethical issues concerning biomedicine and gender. Her publications cover areas including digital health, new and emerging biotechnologies, and gender identity as well as gender and sports.