Updates on Semenya

11 09 2009

chp_gendersNew information on Caster Semenya’s sex testing has been reported by Sports Illustrated, NPR, and the Daily Telegraph. Read the numerous comments made in regards to the question posed in the Daily Telegraph “Should Semenya be stripped of her gold medal?” here (at posting time there were 229 comments). The South African government is criticizing the IAAF for what it calls a “violation of human rights” and its handling of the case.

I am hopeful that real and meaningful dialogue about sex, gender, gender expression, and sport performance will occur as a result of Semenya’s public ordeal. Perhaps it will enlighten the public that sex and gender are continuums–not the male-female/masculine-feminine binaries to which most subscribe and perpetuate. What person or governing body should decide who competes where and under what criteria?

(picture by MIT OCW)



2 responses

11 09 2009

It’s amazing to me that sporting bodies haven’t figured out how to deal with intersex athletes given that gender verification tests have been around since at least the 60’s. But at the heart of this issue is the role of testosterone in sport performance. The way the press around Semenya reads — she has more testosterone, therefore, she has an unfair advantage over other female competitors. Do we really have empirical evidence to support this assertion? I’d love to hear from someone like Dr. Anne Fausto-Sterling, who is an expert on biology and gender, on this issue.

11 09 2009

I completely agree. This isn’t a new issue but here we are in 2009 still grappling. -nml

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