OII: Petition to the International Olympic Committee

Hida Viloria, OII-USA’s Spokesperson for Human Rights, has been invited to represent OII at the next meeting of the IOC in Switzerland in October this year.

She will be presenting this petition to the members of the IOC.

We ask all our readers and members to sign the petition if they have not already done so as it may well play a crucial role in the IOC’s inclusion and treatment of female intersex athletes.

Petition to the International Olympic Committee

Please sign below

We, the undersigned, support the members of the Organisation Intersex International, in their demands that:

  1. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) reject demands that female athletes with intersex variations have their variations diagnosed and treated.
  2. The IOC allow the above mentioned athletes, known as intersex women, to compete as females without having to undergo diagnosis or  “treatment.”
  3. The IOC, its press, and medical practitioners refer to females with intersex variations as “women with intersex variations” and not “women with disorders of sex development.”
OII: Petition to the International Olympic Committee

People with atypical internal and/or external sex anatomy are commonly and historically known as “intersex men” or “intersex women.” OII is the largest intersex organisation in the world, with over three thousand members on all continents except Antarctica, and all our members reject the term “disorders of sex development” which the IOC is using to describe us. This term pathologizes our differences, which none of our other labels throughout history has done, and was imposed on us in 2006 by a group consisting primarily of physicians, without taking our views into account.

The question has arisen as to whether intersex women athletes are really female, and we declare that yes, they are. As we have all seen, there is a spectrum of masculinity and femininity within males and females, even amongst those without intersex variations, and in today’s legal system one is either male or female. Thus, intersex adults who are not legally male are legally female, and should be allowed the same legal rights and privileges of any other women. They should be allowed to compete in sporting events as female without having to undergo unnecessary medical “treatment” to validate them as women.

Certain members of the IOC medical panel claimed “Athletes’ health might be endangered if their disorders are not diagnosed and treated,”1 but only a very small percentage of women with intersex variations have any health issues related to their variations. Some have “salt-wasting syndrome,” and some have internal testes which may be at risk for becoming cancerous. Both of these risks can be tested for and acted on if necessary.2

However, members of the medical panel stated, “Those who agree to be treated will be permitted to participate. Those who do not… will not be permitted.”3 Thus health is not the real motivator for “diagnosis” and “treatment.”

The medical panel is falsely framing their demands as a health issue to obfuscate the fact that they are singling out women they deem overly masculine and forcing them to “fix,” i.e. “feminize,” their “masculine characteristics” in order to compete. We believe this is astoundingly discriminatory.

The issue which intersex female athletes present is one of “fairness.” However, as many have pointed out, unfair physical advantages are endemic to sports. Men with low testosterone levels have been muscled out of medals since sports began without calling for their rivals to be banned from competition. In addition, many male athletes have been shown to possess physical conditions that give them advantages in their particular sport. The only fair solution is for the IOC to celebrate, not regulate, “masculine” women’s physical talents, just as it does men’s.


  1. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/21/sports/olympics/21ioc.html
  2. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/21/sports/olympics/21ioc.html