Saturday, August 22, 2009

Caster Semenya: Champion Female Runner Subjected to Invasive Tests to Prove Gender

South African champion runner Caster Semenya is being subject to invasive tests to prove her gender status as female because of speculation that she "looks" male. This story has been broadly cover, from the LA Times detailing all the possible genetic or hormonal variables that might lead to her non-gender conforming appearance, the Guardian featured Germaine Greer querying:

"Big, blokish and bloody fast, could she really be a girl? No simple chromosomal test will decide. Establishing her sex will require the services of an endocrinologist, a gynaecologist, an expert on gender and a psychologist. For those of us who have never been allowed to doubt that we were female, the process seems bizarre. We don't know if we think like women or not. We just think. Is there a reputable psychologist out there who would dare to distinguish a female thought process from a male one?"

Jezebel had two articles on the subject, including testimony from her father stating that she never liked dresses like her sister and preferred trousers, but that he changed her nappies and that's all the proof needed to attest to her gender. Jezebel post I & II.

This has all been quite traumatic for the champion runner and she almost didn't accept the gold medal she won because of the scrutiny her "appearance" has generated. This is essentially a media induced and encouraged "are you in the right bathroom?" Gender expression is most certainly on a continuum and in some cases biological sex can be variable. If she were to have a some sort of chromosonal varience, perhaps it might give her a bit of an edge, but so does having long legs--which after all, are genetic. For the most part, this "controversy" has just been an exercise in cruelty and the demand for gender conformity "or else!"

I wish Caster Semenya all the best in HER running career and I hope that her family will not continued to be baggered by the panty-sniffing media.


  1. I feel people can speculate all they want from there living room. But I think it is crazy to but her through this stuff.

    Because with there logic we need to test every woman to make sure she is not a man in drag.

    Because those drag queens can be popular magazine sexy.

  2. I cant believe all this hoopla :) either.

    you expressed my thoughts precisely (Hello CONTINUUM!) and far better than I could have.