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When women first began competing in elite sports, an important question cropped up: who exactly is a woman? Fears that men would simply plop on a wig and a petticoat in order to compete, to the perceived disadvantage of women, arose, and sporting officials began checking the gender of competitor. 


What started as so-called “naked parades” has morphed into a pseudoscience of hormone testing, clitoris measuring, and suspicion-based investigating. Like many aspects of gender, these cases aren’t simple—as a decade of controversy surrounding South African runner Caster Semenya has shown.


For today’s discussion on sports and hormones Katrina Karkazis. She’s the co-author of “Testosterone: An Unauthorized Biography.” She’s also the Senior Visiting Fellow at the Global Health Justice Partnership at Yale University and the Carol Zicklin chair at Brooklyn College.


For more information on today’s episode visit And to find out how to support the work here at Clue, go to Clue.Plus. 

Want to know the answer to the question at the beginning of the show? Check out Let’s talk about squirting: Why is it important, and what does it feel like? on


Background Reading: 

Helloclue: What puberty is like as an intersex person

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