What a woman can be and cannot be

8 07 2010


For the last year I have been intently following the story of Caster Semenya. (For those of you who don’t know who she is,see earlier blog post linked above).

Well at last the South African world 800 metres champion was cleared to compete in athletics – as a woman.  The IAAF have concluded medical tests to ‘prove that Semenya is a woman and she is now being allowed to compete in the sport she loved. Thankfully as well, the medical details of the case remain confidential and the IAAF will make no further comment on the matter! Three cheers for confidentiality and dignity.

To Caster Semenya – you are an inspiration to more people than you realize. Thanks for turning on its head everyone’s ideas of what a woman can be and cannot be.

Gender test?

4 09 2009

A South African athlete Caster Semenya has been asked to take a gender test by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF)….

Now what is a gender test?  Isn’t it a sex test they are trying to do? They want to know if she is a man or woman. Why don’t they just ask her and her parents (since she just turned 18) – is Semenya a girl or boy?

The same thing happened to the Indian athlete Santhi Soundarajan – she –  unfairly and unjustly – was stripped of her medal in 2006. What did she do? She tried to kill herself. That’s what this kind of public scrutiny makes people do.  And we all know how easy suicide is as an option amoung young sri lankans.

If Semenya has grown up a women and she believes she is a woman then she IS a woman – this has nothing to do with her gender – which is separate from her sex. If the IAAF had any doubts as to whether she was a man or woman, they should have done their tests BEFORE she was allowed to compete insead of embarrasing her and making a big deal out of it.

Besides, this notion that sex is only dual is so archaic and not in touch with the reality of today. What about the hijras in india – are they male or female? This idea that people have to either male or female is old fashioned and redundant. Only nations and organisations who live in the last century think along these conservative lines. Today’s world is much more complicated and we need to accept this and get with the programme…

more on Semenya: http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2009/08/is-the-south-african-runner-a-man-or-a-woman.html