Androgyny – Is this a man or woman?
I used to get invited to a group called “Gender Mosaic”. A gaggle of cross dressers who always had interesting workshops (and great food), and who spoke of the “third gender” neither male nor female. It is that mix of male and female though, that has everyone talking about Caster Semenya, an 18-year-old South African runner now competing in the World Championships. Semenya (pictured above and below) is under scrutiny because of her powerful running style and her appearance. Given her recent win this week in Berlin, the running world is having her examined for gender identity.
South African teenager Caster Semenya, the winner of the women’s 800-meter race at the world championships, has been undergoing gender-verification testing. She must be examined by, among others, a gynecologist, psychologist and endocrinologist.
Semenya, 18, reportedly has a deep voice, and her pictures show a physique notably more muscular than the bodies of even her most accomplished rivals. She has dropped almost nine seconds from her best 800 time in the last year – the type of improvement that usually suggests performance-enhancing drugs.
It’s not enough for her to undergo the very intrusive drug testing (the sample collector is supposed to watch every second, up close and personal, in the bathroom). Semenya has to endure a fairly medieval practice, a remnant from the days when all female athletes were deemed abnormal.
I heard a story by the sister of a swimmer in the Montreal Olympics in 1976. Who said that at one point, her sister was sure she heard men’s voices in the women’s locker room. It was the East German women’s swim team (before the testing came in for testosterone). I am all about not cheating, but to subject an 18 year old to scruitiny for her “parts” seems a bit draconian.
I wonder what the gender mosaic group would have to say about this?