Tag Archives: Semenya

Man Or Woman? Revisited

Semenya on the cover of You Magazine. Photo Credit: Mirror.co.uk

Semenya on the cover of You Magazine. Photo Credit: Mirror.co.uk

A few weeks back, I wrote about South African athlete Caster Semenya, the track runner who had to undergo gender verification tests despite winning the World Championships in Berlin last month due to speculations that she may in fact be a man. The tests caused protests all around South Africa–many complaining that such tests treaded on her human rights. Currently, the intersex community has become one of the most out-spoken protesting group, trying to educate people about intersex and trying to rally support for those who don’t exactly have the XX and XY chromosomes that we tend to identify for the female and male sex. But in the world of sports, such gender verification tests are needed, especially when an extra boost of testosterone  makes a split second difference. And again, these kinds of allegations are nothing new in the world of sports.

The results of early tests are in! According to the Daily Telegraph, a UK paper, Semenya has elevated testosterone levels. However, the testosterone level is still low enough to be accepted under IAAF standards. Keep in mind that these are just preliminary medical tests, and NOT the full test. Those results will come in a couple weeks.

Meanwhile, Semenya is living it up as the cover model for You Magazine. She had a “glam makeover.” How you want to define that or read into that is up to you. I was thinking of doing a poll to learn what others think about Semenya on the cover, but then I realized that would be quite rude of me. Anyway, I think she looks beautiful on the cover.

Regarding the question of gender, Semenya says, “God made me the way I am and I accept myself. I am who I am and I’m proud.”

UPDATE SEPTEMBER 14, 2009:

Just yesterday, The Guardian, a UK paper, has reported that Semenya is receiving counseling for the results of the gender verification tests. The tests revealed that she is indeed a hermaphrodite, a person who is born with both male and female sexual characteristics and organs. But the saga is not over. International athletics officials will deliver a verdict around late November and will not likely take away the medal Semenya won in August at Berlin.

Perhaps Semenya can finally have some peace after having her life become so public so fast. She will definitely need support as she rediscovers her own sense of identity.

Photo Credit: Mirror.co.uk

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Man or Woman? The Importance of Knowing

Photo Source: Charlotte Observer

Photo Source: Charlotte Observer

This week, the track world was shocked with allegations that perhaps South Africa’s running sensation and women’s world track champion in the 800 meters race may actually be a man! The International Association of Athletes Fedederation (IAAF) has requested that eighteen-year-old Caster Semenya undergo tests to verify her gender, however the results of the tests are not available for several weeks. According to one source, of the seven runners competing against Semenya, two believe she is a man. Standing at 5 feet 7 inches and weighing 140 pounds, Semenya may look masculine to some. I don’t know what is more tragic, that people think she’s a man or that she has to go through the embarrassing so-called gender verification tests.

And what exactly goes on in these tests? Semenya says she’s willing to prove she’s a woman by dropping her shorts. That’s like a “She’s The Man” moment (if you’ve watched the movie), thus suggesting that having a penis defines one’s gender. But what happens if one’s penis is accidentally chopped off, as in the case of David Reimer? Is one still a man? Do you have to be born with a penis to be called a man? Thus, I assume Semenya also had to undergo blood work and other tests to see if she is in fact, XY.

But for now, Semenya is still competing in the world championships despite these allegations, and she’s beating everyone! We’ll just have to see in a couple weeks if she is in fact a woman. I will feel sorry for Semenya if the reports end up saying that she really is a woman and she had to undergo all this to prove it to everyone. But perhaps it comes with the job of running, especially in the public eye.

Society places a huge importance of labeling and knowing what is what. We want to be sure. It’s important to be sure and to not make a mistake. But what does it mean to be a man or woman in today’s society? Has the definition changed?

This whole incident reminded me of an optical illusion I saw, in which your mind can constantly shift in visualizing a man or a woman. I’m sure that’s what the man was going through when he accused Semenya. But I do agree, she does look “manly” because society believes that men should be buff, which is why female bodybuilders get a lot of ridicule. Anyway, this certainly is some gender identity confusion.

But again, we’ll see and hear the results in a couple weeks. We’re all waiting.

For now, I’ll leave you entertained with this video of a man becoming a woman.

Source 1

Source 2

Photo Source: Charlotte Observer

**I also had a follow up in one of the comments. These allegations aren’t new to the track racing world. The same thing happened to Zimbabwe racing star Samukeliso Sithole, who was a prominent runner in woman’s track. Unfortunately for Sithole, the allegations were proved to be true. Sithole was indeed a man.

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Filed under Issues/Causes, Life, Masculinity