Petitioner Wants Olympics To Revoke Medal Caitlyn Jenner Won As Bruce Jenner
There have been plenty of dumb, and quite often insensitive and insulting, responses to the Vanity Fair cover story introducing Caitlyn Jenner, but this suggestion that Jenner’s Olympic Gold Medal be revoked strikes me as among the dumbest:
A petition posted on change.org is urging the International Olympic Committee to take back the gold medal Caitlyn Jenner won in the 1976 Games in Montreal.
Addressed to the IOC, the petition, written by Jennifer Bradford, reads:
It has recently come to light that gold medalist Bruce Jenner is in fact transgender, and therefore, identifies as a woman. We congratulate Ms. Jenner on these new developments and wish her the best. However, this creates somewhat of a problem as Ms. Jenner (as talented as she is) claims that she has always believed herself to be truly female, and therefore, was in violation of committee rules regarding women competing in men’s sports and vice versa. Therefore, it is with a heavy heart that we must ask whether or not it is proper that Ms. Jenner should retain her olympic records in light of this, as we must now either claim that Bruce Jenner and Caitlyn Jenner are two entirely different people (which we know is not true), or that Bruce Jenner was, in fact, a woman participating in a men’s event. It is only fair to all involved that women receive their credit as champions of the Decathalon and that the men racing Ms. Jenner are not expected to compete with a superior, streamlined being such as herself.
We urge Ms. Jenner to support the transgender community by giving up the medals earned by competing against the wrong gender.
Thank you, and congratulations to Ms. Jenner for her courage!
Jenner, who announced her new name as Caitlyn on Monday and said she has always known she was a woman, competed in the Olympic decathlon as Bruce Jenner. In 1976, Jenner, who was married at the time, was not taking hormone therapy; she may have known she was a woman for her whole life, but she was living as a man, no matter how unhappily, at that time.
I have also seen suggestions that Jenner’s record should be classified as a record for women. These are absurd ideas, of course. When Jenner won the Decathlon in Montreal, she did so as Bruce Jenner. She was not taking hormones at the time, and it’s not entirely clear how aware even she was of her situation. Now that she is known as Caitlyn Jenner it is, I suppose, appropriate to make notation of that fact in things such as the Wikipedia entry for the event, but to pretend that it didn’t take place is absurd. Similarly, the argument that Jenner was “competing under the wrong gender” is just silly. Moreover, the idea that “Bruce Jenner and Caitlyn Jenner are two entirely different people” is simply absurd. They are the same person, with a different name; to treat her as otherwise is just plain ridiculous. There is much about the whole transgender issue that will take society some time to adjust to, but there’s no need to erase history or to refuse to acknowledge that Bruce Jenner never existed.
For its part, the International Olympic Committee is not interested in visiting this issue, and has apparently already addressed the issue of future Olympians who may be transgender males or females:
It is now safe to say that Caitlyn Jenner will go down as the first woman to have ever won an Olympic gold medal and set a world record in the men’s decathlon.
After being pressed by a petition on Change.org that calls for the revocation of Jenner’s Olympic gold medal she won in the 1976 Summer Olympics, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is allowing Caitlyn Jenner to retain her medal despite her sexual transition.
The petition, which had over 11,300 signatures as of Thursday afternoon and originated out of Fort Worth, Tx., argues that because Jenner has said she has always identified as a woman,that she was a woman when she received her gold medal in 1976.
The IOC has said that the fact that Jenner competed as a man will have no impact on her status as an Olympian and that the committee has “no issue” with Jenner’s gender after her announcement, according to The Independent.
The IOC’s decision shouldn’t come as much of a surprise as the committee has been somewhat ahead of the game in addressing the inclusion of transgender athletes in competition. In 2003, the IOC Medical Commission met in Stockholm, Sweden to discuss and “issue recommendations” on the participation of athletes who have undergone sex reassignment.
According to Olympic.org, the Commission concluded, and recommended, that “individuals undergoing sex reassignment from male to female,” and vice versa, “be eligible for participation in female or male competitions, respectively,” and under these conditions:
-Surgical anatomical changes have been completed, including external genitalia changes and gonadectomy.
-Legal recognition of their assigned sex has been conferred by the appropriate official authorities.
-Hormonal therapy appropriate for the assigned sex has been administered in a verifiable manner and for a sufficient length of time to minimise gender-related advantages in sport competitions.
The Commission also recommended that “eligibility should begin no sooner than two years after gonadectomy,” or, in layman’s terms, the surgical removal of an ovary or testis.
There are legitimate issues of fairness that will be raised if, say, a person who was born physically male attempts to compete as a female in a future Olympics, and I’ll leave it to others and to a future discussion to decide whether or not the IOC’s rules on the issue are the right way to handle. it. It seems fairly clear that such a thing is going to happen sooner rather than later, perhaps as soon as the 2016 Olympics in Brazil and, if not then, then certainly at some future event. That’s an issue for the future here, what we’re dealing with here is the past, and it strikes me that the IOC’s response on the Change.org petition is the right way to handle this matter. Bruce Jenner won the Olympic Decathlon in 1976, that is a fact. Caitlyn Jenner can have whatever identity she wishes going forward. Changing the past, though, is rather silly when you get right down to it and, frankly, just a little bit dishonest.
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