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Author Topic: Should transgender/intersexual/mosaic athletes compete as male/female? Bionic  (Read 4102 times)

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Offline Query

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Should transgender/intersexual/mosaic athletes compete as male/female? Bionic modifications?

At the current time, you can compete in many athletic events, including ISU and Olympic events, based on your "gender identity" - i.e., the gender you consider yourself to have, or are legally considered to be, under local law, under certain conditions.

In addition, people in these categories are sometimes allowed, in some cases required to take, hormones which would count as "performance enhancing drugs" for most other athletes.

Finally, it is becoming possible to make surgical modifications which might give people substantial performance advantages over other athletes.

I'm trying to decide, in my own mind, whether these things are "fair". Given that most sports require male and female athletes to compete in different categories, on the assumption that substantial gender related advantages and disadvantages exist, should such athletes have to compete in separate categories? Or would that be unfair to the relevant athletes, some of whom have not been able to compete under earlier rules? It is desirable that athletic events be as inclusive as practical, so that no one feels left out.

First, some definitions, for the purpose of this post (some of these terms have other meanings):

1. Transgender, for this post, refers to individuals who have been modified surgically and by hormonal treatments to appear to be a different gender than when you were borne. Current ISU and Olympic policy on their competition is specified by The  Stockholm Consensus.

2. There are genetic anamolies, like XXY, that cause people not to appear to fit the typical gender dichotomy. They either have some of the characteristics of both genders, or change gender at maturity, unless hormone therapy occurs. Sometimes these things are called "intersexual" phenotypes, but I'm not sure that term has an exact definition.

3. Mosaiced individuals are people who are effectively a combination of cells from two different embryos. E.g., your outer body might be made up of cells from one embryo, your inner body another.

For 2 and 3 above, no doubt some of them probably competed in the past, before, testing, and sometimes knowledge, existed to detect the difference.

The relevant experts in the IOC made their decisions based on a lack of statistical evidence for a performance advantage. Many sources say there is also a lack of evidence for the abscence of a performance advantage. And since the associated protocols specify that the information will be kept private, there will never be an adequate basis to test whether there is a competitive advantage. It was stated that there were a number of transgender/intersexual athletes at the Sochi Olympics, but their identities were mostly hidden.

BUT: Physics says some advantages and disadvantages MUST exist. For example, typical males have much wider shoulders than typical females. That gives them an overwhelming mechanical advantage for upper body strength moves. Likewise, typical females have much wider hips than typical males. Again, typical females have much greater flexibility - e.g., much more hip mobility. This means a wider range of motion, and smoother motion. Typical males also have stronger bones, and are somewhat less fragile. Typical females have a lower center of gravity, leading to better balance.

And it has been known for some time that females become stronger if they take male steroids, and males become stronger if they take female steroids. (BTW I don't understand how that can be true. Why should the presence of both increase strength or muscle mass.)

OTOH there are huge variations of body structure, weight, strength, flexibility, grace, bone density, etc., even within the range of "normal" males and females. There are a few sports, like boxing, where people divide by weight class, and there are some age divisions, but for the most part, we don't have divide people out by body type, except for gender. Maybe we shouldn't divide people without clear reason here either. On the other-other hand, we don't let people in wheelchair race against "normal" runners.

----------------------------------

Along the same lines of surgical modification, it is still not realistically possible, YET, to make fully "bionic" people, along the lines of "The Six Million Dollar Man" and"Bionic Women" TV shows. But it is absolutely becoming possible, to give people substantial performance advantages. For example, you might give an athlete a stronger joint, or re-attach a muscle in a place that gives you a greater mechanical advantage, or make you more flexible. It used to be that joint replacement was rarely done, because you had to cut through a large amount of muscle, which would never fully recover. But those days are changing. It is inevitable that it will be possible to make people stronger, faster, and perhaps more graceful. (Have some you dreamed of becoming bionic?) In fact, when athletes are injured, I think they are sometimes repaired in ways that make them stronger.

WIll this be fair? If bionics is banned, what about athletes who have already been modified repaired?

See also:

  Figure skater CHRISTINA KOCI.

  Wikipedia Gender verification in sports.

Please, keep this discussion civil! Some of our members might be within these categories.


Offline 4711

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Oye veh.....

As non skater I have the following thoughts:

One skier back in the late 50s early 60s was found to be a biological man through blood test. But she was raised, identified up until that point as female.

I have been told that there are plenty of kids who do look like female, but are indeed males, but it won't 'show' until puberty.

As to the 'true' biological body with the wrong gender identity....
As transgender male to female (to specify) I can see where there is a mechanical advantage to the athletic part of the sport, as - depending on the time of transition - the body is indeed male of bone structure and muscle....but in turn it would lack some of the other components. Not to mention the competition is very stiff. (and then again their are trans women who make me look like butch trailer park trash...)

A transgender female to male - again depending on the time of transition would be, as I think, be at a disadvantage.
However, I suppose, as female bodybuilders on testosterone prove, the female body can do a lot of catching up.

On an ethical level, let people compete as who they are.
The sport is hard and demanding, I don't think a few hormones make or break a sport that is not judged by the stop watch or the tape measure.
The lady's first solid quad should be just around the corner as it is (not that I like quads particularly)

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Offline Query

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As transgender male to female (to specify) I can see where there is a mechanical advantage to the athletic part of the sport, as - depending on the time of transition - the body is indeed male of bone structure and muscle....but in turn it would lack some of the other components.

So you believe the advantages would roughly balance the disadvantages?

A transgender female to male - again depending on the time of transition would be, as I think, be at a disadvantage.

I'm not sure about that. Males rarely look particularly graceful, or have extreme flexibility.

Women sometimes have very strong lower core and leg muscles. Add the extra upper body strength from hormone treatments, and you might have someone with an overall advantage. Perhaps... And perhaps not.

They usually balance better, and some psychologists often claim they have better fine motor skills.

Some males have done very well in high profile competitions without doing quads. Johnny Weir, Jason Brown, come to mind.

Would a male skater who is physically somewhat female look better moving gracefully than a male body type who only acts female?

Some people think that both types of transgender athlete have athletic advantages.

Also, most athletes make most of their income through sponsorship. Notoriety might help.


Offline 4711

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I think in the end the scales balance out.
So much of the sport is subjective as it is, even with the added technical scores.

I mean, there are so many variables as it is in terms of built...my uncle said a reason Midori Ito was such a great jumper was because she was bowlegged - while most ladies are rather knock-kneed.....

I have to say, with all the BS I have read recently about transgenderism, this is about the first time there is some real serious discussion, or rather merit to the discussion!

I mean, who the heck cares what bathroom one uses, you are not supposed to look anyhow!

So yes, thank you for an intelligent topic.
(I know one kid who is now 'out' as transgender. It did not surprise me a lick. It's* still a good kid, caring for the family and siblings. I guess that makes me a little more 'involved' than most for whom this is a theoretical exercise.)

* as in German 'Das Kind', not the thing. But I realized even in theory the pronouns can become complicated!

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Offline riley876

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Wow.  Intelligent discussion.  Makes a nice change from the usual "kill it!!!" you see in most places on the 'net.

I have both an 47XXY and a 47XYY friend.  My XYY friend is fond of saying that doctors keep telling him he's not human, because humans have 46 chromosomes, and he has 47. (nice guy BTW,  real smart too).   Its not just chromosomes either.  There's tons of other genes that can be mutated and so forth, to the radical point of 46XY woman being entirely fertile and giving birth to their own 46XY daughters.  And there's AIS, and all sorts of other oddities.   The reality of gender is hugely messy,  even before transsexualism is thrown into the mix.

I have a radical solution to this "problem".   Simply get rid of gender segregated competitions, make sex hormones "doping legal", and welcome everyone in.    Not everyone can win  and sport isn't supposed to be "fair to everyone" anyway.   The best is supposed to win.   Plus it'd be likely to fix the massive gender imbalance in figure skating.   

Offline Query

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I have a radical solution to this "problem".   Simply get rid of gender segregated competitions, make sex hormones "doping legal", and welcome everyone in.    Not everyone can win  and sport isn't supposed to be "fair to everyone" anyway.   The best is supposed to win.   Plus it'd be likely to fix the massive gender imbalance in figure skating.

I would argue that said imbalance is due to the supreme emphasis on jumps. There are many things that ladies do better.

If you want men and ladies to compete against each other, would changing the rules, to emphasize grace, balance and flow more, be better than forcing serious competitors to take potentially unhealthy drugs?

(When dance competition shows that emphasize those elements pit men and ladies against each other, ladies often win.)

Edit I've cross-posted this to fsuniverse. In retrospect, that forum deals with such potentially controversial issues more, whereas this forum tends to discuss the technical aspects of figure skating more.

Offline 4711

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I think I am a member there, but I found this forum more welcoming to me :)

I think this is a worthy and in parts technical question, though maybe a little loaded.
I mean, the sport does already have a good, over proportional share of non-binary athletes.
I think it could be a leader in this matter. Outside of Russia, of course....

And I did enjoy the the linked article. it was rather interesting.
I mean, for me, as a rather analytical person, the matter is fascinating. it is not easy to wrap my mind around it, but when you get a chance to participate in the changing world of these folks, it shows a lot of things we take for granted, because we simply can't see the other side of the coin.

The physical aspect is certainly on of them, like the one skater stated, as man, muscles come easy. I think that could be a huge asset to developing sport and training methods as a whole and give us a better understanding on how the human ody works when things are simply not equal!

Some stories though (not sport related) are infuriating though...
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ben_Barres
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Offline riley876

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I would argue that said imbalance is due to the supreme emphasis on jumps.

The imbalance I was referring to was the numerical participation rate,  rather than the difference in jumping air time , but I do agree that jumps are worth too much.   I see people's LPs, and generally can't wait for them to get their awkward barely landed quads out of the way, so I can see how they really skate.  Quads should be all worth the same as a 3A.   If for no reason that quads look awful, and the general public sure isn't counting the revolutions anyway.

Quote
There are many things that ladies do better.

Statistically that may be true, but I don't think it's universally true.  The sport is supposed to highlight the excellent outliers.   The fantastic freaks of nature (and I say that with all the love in the world) (e.g. cough cough, Rohene Ward, cough  ;) ).   The freakiness here we're missing might be an individual that simply has it all.

I suspect mixing everyone would indeed force the ladies to up their game in the power department, and the gentleman to up their game in the grace department.   Leading to what everyone wants to see:  better skating.

Quote
If you want men and ladies to compete against each other, would changing the rules, to emphasize grace, balance and flow more, be better than forcing serious competitors to take potentially unhealthy drugs?

OK, yes, I was playing devil's advocate a little with that part of the suggestion, but I suspect steroid use already happens anyway.   And would probably be needed to not disqualify every single female-to-male contender,  if their participation was indeed desired.

As you might have guessed I'm not a fan of the concept of gender and gender differences.  But sadly, most of the world likes and even celebrates the distinction of genders.  I guess that's the all-pervasive influence of sexuality for you.   So I certainly don't expect my suggestions to be taken up ever.   Especially in such a conservative and traditional sport as figure skating.

Offline AgnesNitt

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ISI permits transgendered competitors. USFSA, I'm told, is still struggling with the issue (probably because of the IOC gender tests).

We used to have a transgender poster her. But she hasn't posted in a long time.

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Offline PrettySk8Dress

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The Gay Games 9 in Cleveland and Akron, Ohio, endorsed by ISI and using ISI guidelines for the figure skating division, including the freedom from discrimination based on gender identity and/or gender expression that is stated in the ISI Mission Statement, were held a year ago this last August. I spent most of my time at the ice rink in Cleveland watching the ice skating competition. Competing in that figure skating competition were a transgender male-to-female adult ice skater from Cincinnati, competing as a female ice dancer and female spotlight skater, and a transgender female-to-male adult ice skater from California competing as a male freestyle ice skater.
As more and more transgender people are, or will be, " coming out " as transgender persons and living their life as their correct gender, and competing as their correct gender, due to the example of Caitlyn Jenner, among others, I think that you will see more and more transgender ice skaters, both teens and adults, both skating for fun as well as competing as their correct gender, dressed as their correct gender. ISI has taken the first step to address this happening by adjusting their Mission Statement to include gender identity and gender expression. But both ISI and USFS ( especially USFS { come on, get with the program ! } ) and ice rinks themselves need to do more to accommodate transgender ice skaters of all ages, children, youth, teen, and adult, and make them feel welcome on the ice, when trans*people are presenting out in public during public sessions and/or presenting themselves before the judges competing as their correct selves, dressed as their correct gender, IMO.
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Offline amy1984

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My only concern would be that with what we currently value point wise, some could be seen as having an advantage.  For example, if someone developed as a male and then transitioned as an adult to female, would their bone structure and musculature be an advantage in a ladies competition?  For example, not many ladies do triple axels and what about the quad?  Say what you want about these jumps, but they currently hold high point values and the truth is that most in the ladies competition can't do them.  I think that we would have to make sure things were as fair as possible.  Maybe look at what we place value on in the sport.

I can imagine that if I were transgendered I would want to be accepted within the sex I identified with, so I think it's reasonable to have a goal of admitting people into the competitive category they identify with.  But from a competitive/technical standpoint, we need to make sure it's still a fair competition.  I think Agnes is right with the IOC rules on gender testing probably affecting the USFSA.  In order for them to change their rules, the IOC would need to be on board, and then this becomes an issue that encompasses a lot more than just figure skating.  I can imagine there would be a lot of research done by the IOC before the gender rules were changed because the IOC encompasses so many sports.  You'd have to look at everything from luge to gymnastics to sprinting.

Offline Query

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I can imagine there would be a lot of research done by the IOC before the gender rules were changed because the IOC encompasses so many sports.

But of course the IOC DID recently change their rules. Without doing the research first to show that there was no major advantage.

There has been a lot of controversy surrounding Fallon Fox, an MMA boxer world. Some people have claimed being born male gave her an unfair advantage. She, in turn, says that black women have greater bone density, so transgenders shouldn't be singled out if blacks aren't...

What if one country doesn't require as much hormone therapy to compensate? Might athletes in that country have an advantage? - a transgender from that country might have most of their original bone and muscle development intact.

Let's bring back the Neanderthals. :) They must have an advantage in some sports, that would make the transgender issue insignificant. And, AFAIK, there are no IOC rules against genetic engineering and (intra-species or trans-species) organ transplants for sports performance. A sci-fi writer could have lots of fun with this - maybe one already has.

Sports have never been completely "fair". Some people have better genes, more encouragement, better trainers, better nutrition, better equipment and facilities, and more money. A lot of us know that we can't do as well as the "real" athletes, no matter how hard we try.

Maybe it is just best to ignore the issue. If it becomes an obvious, overwhelming factor, people may do something about it.

Offline PrettySk8Dress

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Another concept to consider is this---Just because a person or an athlete claims to be a transgender person, does not necessarily make it so. Either transgender people are ignored or overruled by cis-people claiming that they, the cis-people, know more about the transgender person then they themselves, and therefor are relegated to being locked into their so-called birth gender forever, or people will claim transgender status for themselves, when, in fact, their birth gender and current gender match ( i.e., a person born male and acknowledges a male gender identity ), but claim to be a transgender person just because they like to wear the clothing of the opposite ( in this case---female ) gender. Only when a person has gone through the proper protocol with a Licensed Gender Therapist, or a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has extensive experience with gender issues, as well as an Endocrinologist, and that medical professional(s) have signed off on the validity of a person being a transgender person, only then should the valid transgender person avail themselves of the legal and social provisions that are afforded to facilitate their involvement in ice skating, or any other organized sport, IMO.  In this way, actual transgender people are protected by proper non-discrimination laws, with others who are not actually transgender people,  would not be found taking advantage of, for sport or otherwise, in protection that is not afforded to or needed by them.

Example---The hard-core faux news sources would claim that a " boy " went into the girl's locker area at an ice rink to put on " his " ice skates. This makes the faux friends evening news, with viewers thinking, " Horror of horrors " ! What the actual reality is, is that this teen is a transgender person, and has been signed off by two medical professionals that they were born perceived as a male, but their correct gender is female. This teen therefore is wearing a skating dress and skaters tights, and has gone to the girl's locker area to put on her white ice skates. The local government has legal protections in place, based on gender identity and gender expression, plus this teen is an ISI skater protected by the ISI Mission Statement, as is the rink, so this teen is not doing anything improper. Yet the faux news cameras are rolling, trying to stir controversy over the fact that this teenage female skater supposedly has a different birth gender, and therefore is somehow to be made the target of discrimination and oppression.   
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Offline 4711

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I don't see it, really, people pretending to be trans when they are not.
You can tell if a boy is really a girl! I know one. Have not seen the kid since she made it official, but when 'he' was still the official pronoun, you could tell from a mile away, it was wrong!
Heck, it even shows on the picture I got of 'him'!

There is so much bias going around, you have to be desperate to claim the non-body gender as real gender!

There is a kid in my son's class now, would prefer to be called by the male attributes. I have not met this kid in person yet, but you can usually tell when you interact, whether or not it's a farce.

I am thinking of Caitlin Jenners. Heck, after the coming out, the weird facial surgery make perfect sense!
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Offline icedancer

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I have known a lot of transgender and "transitioning transgender" people - there is definitely a stage where a person will try on a name and appearance of the opposite sex... or the sex they identify with - sometimes without having seen a counselor, etc.

I'm not sure what they do about a bathroom.

I also have a friend who is a lesbian and she really does look like a boy the way she dresses and wears her hair, etc.  I was in the bathroom with her at a conference and when she came out of the stall, another woman in the bathroom seemed shocked and my friend said to her, "It's okay, I'm a woman."  I looked at my friend like, "What???"  She said it happened all the time.

So my question for you and if this has been covered by this thread, please forgive me - what about the hormones that the transgender person takes (and injects) prior to and I think after surgery (and surgeries) to gain the characteristics of their preferred sex - will these hormones pass drug tests at competitions?

I had another friend who was an Olympic level runner from Ukraine I believe in the 80s.  They used steroid which she said made her EXTREMELY aggressive (sexually and otherwise) which she hated but couldn't control because she was in that system.  I do wonder about the long-term side-effects of that.

Just a few random thoughts on this subject.

Offline 4711

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I had another friend who was an Olympic level runner from Ukraine I believe in the 80s.  They used steroid which she said made her EXTREMELY aggressive (sexually and otherwise) which she hated but couldn't control because she was in that system.  I do wonder about the long-term side-effects of that.

Just a few random thoughts on this subject.

Now, mind you, I don't know these ladies, but I read about a Chinese Olympian whose fertility was messed up due to 'the pill of power' that was forced down her throat (literally, I might think). As I recall she was in some form of a power sport, lifting, but I could be wrong.
An East German woman later turned man. It is a little unclear if she/he transitioned because she felt like a guy, or if the prolonged steroid use 'turned' her. If that is even possible.

I do remember a lady of some sort of Eastern country, 800m runner if I got that right, she looked like a dude....

It would be interesting to see how they turned out.

Or women bodybuilders who took testosterone....the changes are irreversible as far as I know.
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Offline PrettySk8Dress

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I have known a lot of transgender and "transitioning transgender" people .  .  .  .


So my question for you and if this has been covered by this thread, please forgive me - what about the hormones that the transgender person takes (and injects) prior to and I think after surgery (and surgeries) to gain the characteristics of their preferred sex - will these hormones pass drug tests at competitions?

  They used steroid which she said made her EXTREMELY aggressive (sexually and otherwise) .  .  .  . 

First off---Hormones are not steroids, and steroids are not hormones. The two should not be confused as to their effect on athletes and ice skaters.

I also have met and know of several transgender persons myself.
Not all transgender persons want or need surgery, although many do have the surgery, but almost all transgender people are prescribed and take their correct hormones.

For transgender persons who are male-to-female ( MTF ), and take female hormones ( 'E', estrogen ), over a period of time, different with each individual, the 'E' has the effect of reducing strength and muscle mass, and of redistributing body tone to that of a typical female, including the developing of breasts. A person who was born perceived as a male, but with years of ingesting 'E' will likely not have a muscle or body advantage over a cis-female competitor. And being under the care of an Endocrinologist, the MTF transgender female ice skater would continue to skate and perform as would a cis-female, for the rest of their skating or professional life.

Likewise, for a transgender female-to-male ( FTM ) who takes male hormones ( 'T', testosterone ), over a period of time, different with each individual, the 'T' has the effect of increasing strength and muscle mass, plus there is the possibility of the FTM of pumping up on steroids, so the net result is that the FTM ice skater would be near to or on the same level of development as a cis-male freestyle skater. And being under the care of an Endocrinologist, the FTM ice skater would continue to skate and perform as would a cis-male competitor, for the rest of their skating life.

If the hormones should show up in a drug test before or after competition, the transgender ice skater just has to show the medical papers that have been signed off by the medical professionals, to show that they are doing nothing wrong or improper by taking their correct prescribed hormones. There is little or no competitive sports advantage in ice skating or otherwise, as stated above. No medical papers ? No prescription because they are self-medicating ? Then bust the skater just as one who is doping themselves on their own stored blood, performance enhancing drugs, illegal hormones, or steroids.

Are sports fair ? Maybe or maybe not. There are always going to be people, cis, trans, or otherwise, who want to compete fairly and honestly, as well as those who don't mind cheating any way they can for country or whatever. It's all human nature.
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Offline riley876

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Thank for 'splaining all that to us.

Ha, "cis"-gender.  vs "trans"-gender Cute.  I get it.  (Chemistry joke, some molecules are trans-whatever and some are cis-whatever depending on their layout)

Are you seriously suggesting someone might just pretend to be transgender in order to cheat?.  So you're saying there's such a thing as a "fake transgender" person?  That concept seems awfully ripe for identity politics and othering.   Who gets to decide?  A bunch of psychologists?   A case of whoever has enough money to pay a gatekeeper gets the tick, and those that don't get to suffer a "fake" label?

I get the feeling this is a personal issue for you?  What have been your experiences with regard to skating politics?


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First off---Hormones are not steroids, and steroids are not hormones. The two should not be confused as to their effect on athletes and ice skaters.


Well, yes they are - but that is my medical training and work in reproductive endocrinology coming through - I don't know how the testing goes so I was just kind of rambling about it.

 :nvm: