You Can Run, But You Can’t Hide

by Libby Zay

What happens when you smoke your nearest rival in the 800-meter dash by 2.45 seconds?  If you’re a woman, your gender comes into question.

Long teased for her ”boyish” looks, South African runner Caster Semenya has heard comments about her appearance her entire life.  After winning a gold medal at the world athletics championships, the slim hipped, broad shoulder, muscular athlete is now being forced to take a ”gender verification test.”  The test includes exams by an endocrinologist, gynecologist, psychologist, and a so-called ”gender expert.”  Ladies, don’t you agree that Semenya, herself, is the only true expert on which gender she identifies as?

The International Association of Athletics Federation said if Semenya has grown up thinking she is a woman but the tests determine she is not, she did not necessarily cheat in the race but was still given an ”unfair advantage.” If found to be a man, she will be disqualified and stripped of her medals.

The San Francisco-based National Sexuality Resource Center has launched a petition, demanding the IAFF ”stay out of Caster Semenya’s pants.”  The organization said the IAFF’s efforts are shameful, unnecessary, and humiliating.

Leonard Chuene, head of South African Athletics, said: ”We are talking about a child here. If gender tests have to take place, they should have been done quietly. It is a taboo subject. How can a girl live with this stigma?”  Agreed!

Many, including Chuene, have pointed out the underlying racism in the situation, comparing it to a public lynching.  ”It is outrageous for people from other countries to tell us ‘We want to take her to a laboratory because we don’t like her nose, or her figure,”’ Chuene said.

Sports officials have a history of misunderstanding that gender is a fluid social construct, and that even our physical sex can be ambiguous.  In 1986, Spanish hurdler Maria Jose Martinez-Patino was discovered to have an XY chromosone, leading to the loss of her winnings, friends, and even fiance.  Just three years ago Santhi Soundarajan, a runner from India, ”failed” a sex test and later attempted suicide.

So far, there is absolutely ZERO evidence that Caster Semenya is a man, or even that she is intersex.  The only thing for certain is that gender and sex bias unabashedly exists in professional sports.

Read more: An Intersex Perspective / A Racial Perspective
Picture courtesy of Times Online.

You may also like

Get the print magazine.

The best of BUST in your inbox!

Subscribe to Our Weekly Newsletter

About Us

Founded in 1993, BUST is the inclusive feminist lifestyle trailblazer offering a unique mix of humor, female-focused entertainment, uncensored personal stories, and candid reporting that tells the truth about women’s lives.

©2023 Street Media LLC.  All Right Reserved.