ACLU of Hawai'i Represents Transsexual Canoeist in Fight over Gender

Affiliate: ACLU of Hawaii
September 13, 2000 12:00 am

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HONOLULU, HI – In an effort to ensure that transsexuals are entitled to equal protection of the law and free from discrimination based upon sex, the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawai’i said today that it will challenge a state athletic organization’s rule requiring athletes to undergo genetic testing to participate in sports.

The Hawai’i Canoe Racing Association instituted a policy this year for participation in its races. In addition to providing a birth certificate, the association now requires participants to under go genetic testing.

ACLU of Hawai’i legal director Brent White said the ACLU believes that the rule is not only discriminatory, but that it was put in place specifically to target Hawai’i resident and competitor Tammy Wronski.

“Ms. Wronski has been recognized as female both medically and legally,” said ACLU legal director Brent White. “Her birth certificate shows that she is female and Hawai’i law specifically allows amendment of birth certificates to reflect sex reassignment. Forcing Ms. Wronski to undergo genetic testing not only subjects her to the indignity of the test itself, but also unjustly bars her from competition,” he said.

Genetic testing to determine gender for the purposes of sports competition has been opposed by the American Medical Association and widely known athletic associations, including the International Olympic Committee and the International Amateur Athletic Federation.

“Genetic testing is simply an inappropriate way to determine gender for the purposes of sports competition. There are men with chromosomes like females and vice-versa,” said White. “If we used this test to determine if someone is female, women could be screened out and men could pass.”

The case raises the fundamental question of whether transsexual females are entitled to the same protection under state law as other individuals. The ACLU said it will bring a complaint before the Hawai’i Civil Rights Commission.

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