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She’s Fast, but Is She a Woman?

Posted on Aug 19, 2009
IAAF / Clyde Koa Wing

South Africa’s 18-year-old Caster Semenya, the new 800-meter world champion, is so fast the International Association of Athletics Federations has dispatched an endocrinologist, a gynecologist, an internist, a genderist (?) and a psychologist to determine whether she’s actually female.

That has to be an awkward conversation. And how is this development supposed to make women feel?

A spokesman said, “The gender verification test is an extremely complex procedure.” How complex can it possibly be?  —PS


“In the case of this athlete, following her breakthrough in the African junior championships, the rumours, the gossip was starting to build up,” said Davies.

“The gender verification test is an extremely complex procedure. The situation today is that we do not have any conclusive evidence that she should not be allowed to run.”

A group of doctors, including an endocrinologist, a gynaecologist, an internal medicine expert, an expert on gender and a psychologist, have started the testing procedure but it is uncertain when the results will be known.

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By ramoskevin031, January 11, 2010 at 7:35 am Link to this comment

Thank you for this post. I am new to your blog and get really very nice. I will keep visiting your blog.

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By coloradokarl, August 21, 2009 at 9:02 pm Link to this comment

It takes specialists? I can tell with one whi….errr… Never Mind

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By 80-T, August 21, 2009 at 12:46 pm Link to this comment

As good as the best.  Genetically, that’s just generally not possible in professional sports.

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By Caitlin, August 21, 2009 at 11:27 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Point: Why must athletes be segregated at all? Personally, I prefer co-ed sports.
Guys typically are better athletes, and by practicing with them, I got better.

“How good does a female athlete have to be before you just call her an athlete?”

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By 80-T, August 20, 2009 at 7:49 am Link to this comment

Hulk2008: Gender is an issue when discussing fairness in WOMEN’S RACING.

Caitlin: She’s a fast runner, but nobody’s claiming that she could beat men.  The point is, in WOMEN’S RACING you need to be a WOMAN, because the reason there IS a separate division is because WOMEN are typically SLOWER than men because of DIFFERENT anatomy.  Get a life and lose the fami-nazi blindness.

Leefeller:  Your comment don’t even make any sense.

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Hulk2008's avatar

By Hulk2008, August 20, 2009 at 7:28 am Link to this comment

Wait until we build a fleet of robo-athletes - they will be asexual and lots faster than humans.  Why is gender an issue?

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By drkimpa, August 19, 2009 at 10:47 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“It shouldn’t matter if there’s a penis or a vagina -
this person is a fast runner. Good enough for me.”

The above comment completely misses the point. If s/he is phenotypically male, 1:54 for the 800m is not even in the ballpark of international level competition for men. In fact, it doesn’t even approach U.S. high school national level competition. It might place in the top three or four at the high school state championship level.

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By Michael Janias, August 19, 2009 at 10:00 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This post gives more insight into the gender question:

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By Caitlin, August 19, 2009 at 9:00 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“Gender” has got to be one of the most absurd concepts in our lexicon. Is “gender”
what’s between your legs, how you think, or how you act? And what if what’s
between your legs don’t match how you act? Gender segregation is myopic in
nature and reifies inequality. It shouldn’t matter if there’s a penis or a vagina -
this person is a fast runner. Good enough for me.

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By Leefeller, August 19, 2009 at 5:28 pm Link to this comment

It shouldn’t really matter, because I support and believe in women’s rights. Wait until you see the centerfold in Playboy.

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