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A Question Of Gender

A Question Of Gender

The world of women’s running has seen a lot of drama these past few weeks as sports officials and the media question the gender of runner Caster Semenya.  The controversy began after South African runner, Semenya won an 800-meter race at the World Athletics Championships in just 55.45 seconds (the best women’s time made this year). 

Reports are now leaking that before the 800-meter race Semenya and a top track official received results from a medical test showing that her testosterone levels were very high.  The Athletics South Africa (ASA) track official, Leonard Chuene, previously denied putting Semenya through any gender tests before the race, but has now retracted the statement and apologized for the lie after newspapers revealed an email correspondance Chuene had with the sports doctor. 

Semenya is now going through further gender tests before officials decide if they should strip her of her medals and her right to run as a woman. The official final results have not yet been revealed, but an article from the AFP quotes Chuene responding to questions about the pending gender tests.  Chuene says, "No one has seen the reports.  We have learnt in the media that she is a hermaphrodite."  Australian newspapers have been reporting that Semenya is a hermaphrodite with internal testes. 

The way that 18-year-old Semenya has been treated in recent weeks has sparked controversy within many human rights organizationsCNN reports about South Africa’s minister for women, children, and people with disabilities,Noluthando Mayende-Sibiya’s, reaction to Semenya’s situation.  Sibiya sent a letter to the U.N. Division for the Advancement of Women asking that they investigate Semenya’s treatment.  Sibiya wrote, "The questioning of her gender is based on a stereotypic view of the physical features and abilities attributable to women.  Such stereotypes demonstrates the extent of patriarchy within the world’s sporting community." 

What do you think of the gender tests sports officials are currently putting Semenya through?

If official results find Semenya to possess both male and female anatomy, what type of ruling do you think judges should make?

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  • jemappel By jemappel
    09.23.09  

    I think they have to put her through the gender tests to find the truth. And if she has both male and female anatomy, I don't think she can compete as a woman. I feel really badly for Semenya, but it's not fair to women at large if someone is competing with the benefits of male biology. It's one of the cruel tricks of life for someone to be a hermaphrodite, but in this case, I don't think Semenya should compete as a woman unless tests show that she is biologically woman.

  • lbowlus By lbowlus
    09.24.09  

    I think it is so sad that we can't just let her run and win. Why do we have to jump into someones blood to see if they are worthy of the win. Yea if they take drugs that would enhance their win, that's a problem. But this is just the stupidest thing. Let the racers run. Focus on the sport. Geesh. Everyone is so reactive.

  • Allbusiness By Allbusiness
    09.24.09  

    This is really sad. She was made just how God made her, and not by using any drugs. She should be able to run. A lot of women have high testosterone levels. You will be stocked and surprised how high this percentage is. If the testes are undeveloped and on the inside then she should be able to run with other females.

  • junconventional By junconventional
    09.25.09  

    This is sad - problem is that there are other people that have similar issues with homone levels. If her birth certificate states that she is female then so be it. She is being penalized for something she has no control over. If you test her then you need to test ALL females to see if their testosterone levels are within the "normal" range (whatever that means).

  • blake2020ca By blake2020ca
    09.25.09  

    This is a sad situation. If she has both male and femal anatomy though how is it decided where she gets to compete? Just because she has both IMO does not mean she should not get the win. At birth it was stated she is female, she was raised as a female so who are any of us to say no sorry but just because you are faster, stronger or taller you cannot be the female you have lived your life as.

  • mommymomo By mommymomo
    09.25.09  

    She is a hermaphodite. She has undescended testicles that give her loads of testosterone. She has female gentalia and has been raised as a woman, so to me, she is a woman! Could Michael Phelps be banned from competing because of his genes have given him an almost perfect swimmer?s body? Should Lance Armstrong be stripped of his titles because his cancer treatment left him with a different, possibly more advantageous, physique?

  • ShabbyChic By ShabbyChic
    09.25.09  

    Gender is socially constructed. Her gender is a female without question. She was raised a girl and has played the role of a female in society throughout her life. Her sex is however being called into question. However, if she turns out to be XY, but appears and acts like a female then that is what she is. We don't go around questioning all the supermodels who are also intersex. We should really leave her alone. Imagine your sex being questioned over the media. Intersex is more common then people think and this is just another form of discrimination. She didn't decide to be born with ambiguous genitalia, if she was. She is just trying to make sense of who she is in a society that only tolerates male or female - nothing ambiguous.

  • msfriendly By msfriendly
    09.29.09  

    She has such talent and this is such a terrible thing for her. If it was decided that she be raised a girl and is a women in our society, so be it.

  • momagarry By momagarry
    09.29.09  

    I think that was ridiculous of them to test her.

  • misseliza123 By misseliza123
    09.29.09  

    What a hard time this must be for her! So much to deal with, and so publicly. It really is wrong. If sports officials feel that they need to require gender testing in the future then fine -- it would be a private, automatic thing like drug testing. But to drag her through all this in public is disgraceful. Leave her alone and let her wear her awards with pride; she deserves them.

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