Runner’s gender speculation ludicrous

South African runner Caster Semenya won her first 800-meter world title yesterday amid speculation that she is not biological female.  As for  the coverage of it, all I have to say is “Fail!”

Exhibit A:

Caster Semenya

How does one test for gender? Do you use a product such as this?

Exhibit B:

“About three weeks ago, the IAAF asked the South African athletics federation to conduct the gender test after Semenya burst onto the scene by posting a world leading time of 1 minute, 56.72 seconds at the African junior championships in Bambous, Maruitius.”

Because she did so well she must be a man? No woman could ever do so well?

Exhibit C:

“’What can I do when they call her a man, when she’s really not a man? It is God who made her look that way,’” Semenya’s paternal grandmother, Maputhi Sekgala, told the South African daily The Times. ”

Seriously? I don’t even know what to say to this. I suppose this quote isn’t the media’s fault, but really?

Exhibit D:

“While Semenya’s case has attracted a flurry of attention, it’s not the first gender controversy in track and field history … Perhaps the most famous case is that of Stella Walsh, also known as Stanislawa Walasiewicz, a Polish athlete who won gold in the 100 at the 1932 Olympics, who had ambiguous genitalia.”

So if you are intersex you can’t compete?

People go their entire lives as intersexed because by all outward appearances they seem normal. One out of every 1,666 people born have neither XX or XY chromosomes.

If every athlete – not just those that are amazing successful or appear gender-variant  – had to submit to these tests, I bet a lot more people would be disqualified for not being technically female or male.

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7 thoughts on “Runner’s gender speculation ludicrous

  1. This does not only show people’s outright stupidity and ignorance of the difference between sex and gender but it is also completely sexist. To say that a person has to be a man in order to do well is ridiculous. Why aren’t people just congratulating her for breaking this record?

    On a different note, can people really be ruled out of competition because they are intersex? That seems completely unfair and is probably grounds for discrimination based on sex, wouldn’t you say?

    If people are continually being removed from sporting events such as the olympics because anatomically they don’t fit in one of the two sex categories they are given, don’t you think that it is time we come up with a better system?

  2. I feel so bad that a person would have to face this kind of ridicule because she’s “too talented”. This was a great assessment of the situation. Thanks for posting this!

  3. Pingback: Twitter Trackbacks for Runner’s gender speculation ludicrous « Stuff Queer People Need To Know [] on

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