The International Amateur Athletic Federation asked the South African athletic federation to conduct the gender test after Semenya burst onto the scene by posting a world-leading time of 1:56.72 in the 800 at the African junior championships in Bambous, Mauritius, on July 31. Her previous best was 2:00.58.
The test, which takes weeks to complete, requires a physical medical evaluation, and includes reports from a gynecologist, endocrinologist, psychologist, an internal medicine specialist and an expert on gender. Gender testing used to be mandatory for female athletes at the Olympics, but the screenings were dropped in 1999. One reason for the change was not all women have standard female chromosomes. In addition, there are cases of people who have ambiguous genitalia or other congenital conditions.
The most common cause of sexual ambiguity is congenital adrenal hyperplasia, an endocrine disorder where the adrenal glands produce abnormally high levels of hormones. "We condemn the motives of those who have made it their business to question her gender due to her physique and running style. Such comments can only serve to portray women as being weak," the ANC said in a statement.
South African athletics federation president Leonard Chuene insisted Semenya is facing intense scrutiny because she is African.
"It would not be like that if it were some young girl from Europe," Chuene told the AP by telephone. "If it was a white child, she would be sitting somewhere with a psychologist, but this is an African child."
The Congress of South African Trade Unions said it "rejects with contempt the attempts by those who tried to undermine her success by raising bogus and groundless queries about her gender." Huffington Post
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Re: Caster Semenya - So When A Black Woman Beats You Fair & Square You Accuse Her Of Being A Man?
In the WTH! Files:
Ok, so that Austin Powers clip always makes me laugh but the "Bitter Bettys" and haters who've been bested by South African champion Caster Semenya are not amusing - at all. So will every black female athlete who outperforms her competitors be accused of using performance-enhancing drugs or being a man to disqualify her? Ms. Caster is undergoing gender testing to "prove" she is a she! Not to be vulgar here but is this akin to the "finger test" some doctors performed on young women to "prove" their virginity as well?
Some people take their jealousy and envy to a whole other level I tell ya! There is a putrid intersection of racialized gender bias here. Questioning someone's gender identity and biology all in the name of a win or loss of a sporting event is contemptible. I know these competitions are big money but where are the advocacy organizations like the Human Rights Campaign or NOW on this! Forget about the NAACP as they only care about defending black male criminals. I have NO idea what Ms. Semenya's orientation is but it seems this witch-hunt should be a concern as it could inadvertently ensnare LGBTs. How far is this going to go?
This is a powerful humiliation tactic used against a woman who doesn't conform to expectations of failure. Since when does not being mediocre warrant such outrage? This is some serious gender and racial discrimination going on! What about an athlete who was born intersex? Are they not allowed to compete under their preferred gender (if they've chosen one)? Or what if their parents chose one for them at birth? Is some sports official going to override that and invalidate the entire span of that athlete's career? How is she to protect herself if those officials wanted to deny her gender identity by using her own body against her?
There's also an excellent article at The Nation with discusses the intersectionality of racism and gender bias in The Idiocy of Sex Testing.