Thursday, August 20, 2009

Female runner being tested to check she is a woman...

I know this is not craft related, but I have an interest in issues of gender and sexuality, and found this story intriguing. The basics of the story are pretty simple: a winning female runner has a fairly masculine build and face and a deep voice, so they want to check to make sure she's really a woman.

What's really interesting is that it's not just a simple matter of "drop your pants and let's have a look". The process of testing 18-year-old Caster Semenya's gender will take weeks and will involve several specialists.

The part I found most intriguing is published in the paper version of the National Post story, but not online for some reason. There are conditions that may be at play where it is possible Semenya is outwardly female, but may have a hormonal imbalance, or some other genetic make-up that would alter her physiology to make her more masculine. This would affect her looks, but also her abilities. Apparently, the fabulous people from the Olympics would consider this an unfair advantage and require her to take hormone supplements, etc, before being allowed to compete professionally.

The idea of her having to artificially alter her physiology just to be able to compete in an organization that rejects that very idea seems somewhat ridiculous. Will her odd hormonal balance give her an advantage? Probably. But, why shouldn't she take advantage of that? She probably has enough gender identification issues from being barred from ladies bathrooms, etc. Why should she have to change to be considered female? Her masculine looks have probably caused her enough trouble - I think it's time she get something good out of the deal. And maybe set a few records along the way.

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