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Caster Semenya unveils glamorous look as she learns she’ll keep gold medal

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  1. When will the “International Association of Athletics Federations” realise that we do not live in some sort of 1950s gender straitjacket. . .

    Just because some one is genetically male or female . . . are we really saying that in the 21st century we should still aggressively police conformity to gender sterotypes.

    One wonders how the “International Association of Athletics Federations” deal with an Hermaphrodite Athlete.

  2. Did we ever get to the bottom of this? Is she a chap or not?

    That picture is, frankly no help.

  3. Julian Morrison 9 Sep 2009, 11:45am

    She shouldn’t concede so much to the gender-defenders.

  4. theotherone 9 Sep 2009, 12:05pm

    Julian: I agree – she looks better, more ‘true’ without the make-up

  5. @CB:

    The tests have confirmed that she is indeed a female, but her testosterone levels are four times higher than those of an average woman.

    I honestly don’t think that’s fair to the other contestants, sorry. They have no chance of beating her time. I mean, where do you draw the line?

  6. . . . so are we saying that every one women should have the same “Testosterone levels” to be eligible to enter an event?

  7. The same? Of course not. Comparable, yes. Maybe it’s just me, but I consider such discrepancy in hormone levels an unfair advantage.

    Her levels are probably higher than mine. All I’m saying is that gender sometimes doesn’t seem to be the best criteria in deciding who should compete.

  8. What a load of bollocks your typing Lucius. So should men with low testosterone (you know the ones that don’t go bald) compete with women and not men? Testosterone or oestrogen levels are not a true indicator of sex or gender. What Caster Semenya has is a medical condition ether over production of testosterone or under production of oestrogen the body produces both naturally.

    I wish people would stop robbing her of her womanhood.

  9. Well, I used to have low testosterone in high school due to chronic fatigue (of the worst variety) and yes, I found standards that applied to other boys at PE shouldn’t mechanically be applied to me.

    This is a competition and you have to take into account all other contestants; to give them proper chance at least. My only concern is that which affects performance in athletics; and testosterone undoubtedly does.

    Again, I’m not taking a swipe at her. For all I know, she may be the loveliest person on the planet. That shouldn’t be a smokescreen when it comes to sports and fairness.

    Oh, and I think you mixed up the baldness part. Isn’t it the other way round?

  10. The Menstruator 9 Sep 2009, 2:31pm

    I saw this photo and I wanted to cry. You know she’s being forced to put on make up by people that only care about $. It’s like making a man act like a human when you have women put on garb they don’t fancy. She’s being brainwashed and controled for what? Some people who lost to her couldn’t handle it? So they are betraying their own gender, once again. why do women constantly do men’s evil work of misogyny?
    Meanwhile, I demand a gender test on Tiger Woods. He’s always seemed a little faggoty to me. Is this what it’s come to?
    That Oudin, she has no breasts, I think she’s a dude. Not to mention male figure skaters.

  11. So should Bolt be banned from competing because he has a genetic condition that makes him taller and have longer legs than other competitors Lucius?

    We must except that part of the natural human evolution is the random genetic mutations that gave us different builds, eye colour, hair colour, skin colour and even gender.

    Everybody is different and we carry around with us our own mutations that make us different nobody is biochemically the same.

    It is high testosterone that makes men bald.

  12. I’m sorry, but she’s just over-qualified. This casts shadows on her records that stand no chance of being beaten in the near future.

    However, I do think this should never have been made public. No one should go through such humiliation. Sloppy work. And I agree that this makeover is just sad and wrong.

    If high testosterone makes you bald, then why do women with higher testosterone levels have more body hair? Don’t men get bald when they enter andropause? So confusing…

  13. If her testosterone levels are naturally higher (not chemically induced), she is not gaining an unfair advantage. That is the way her body is. You run with the body you have. If some biological quirk gives you an advantage, so be it. That’s what it’s about.

  14. But then it becomes a contest of quirks, not of people. Will in time only the freaks of nature compete?

    If she has a medical condition, treat her. Inject her with estrogen, “break her legs”, and we’ll see how fast she runs.

    (My illustrations are harsh and mean for a reason. I hope they convey my main concern: an even playing field.)

  15. In resolving the situation, I don’t think that photo has done her any favours! She is definitely looking like a he, exacerbated further even by the hairpiece and makeup.

    As for those cliché’d queers on these comments claiming the right to gender dysphoria …. you go girl…. boy….. girl??…. boy?? ;)

  16. Pumpkin Pie 9 Sep 2009, 5:16pm

    I don’t think you have a leg to stand on, Lucius. If someone’s too strong, or if they win by too large a margin, they shouldn’t be allowed to compete? Uh…what? And should people with abnormally high IQs be banned from chess tournaments, then?

    Also, I find your idea that anyone who has a physiological condition outside of the norm should have invasive “corrective treatment” to be rather scary.

  17. That’s why I called it an illustration/provocation, not a suggestion, Pumpkin. ;)

    And lets not lose perspective here. We’re discussing athletics, not voting rights. What should other women do to achieve her results? She’s inexperienced, so you can’t pin it down to a genius technique or something of the sort. I only meant that she’s biologically over-qualified for the contest in comparison to… well, just about any other woman.

    I’m a great fan of Semenya, but I still feel bad for other women, who stand no chance against her.

  18. “But then it becomes a contest of quirks, not of people. Will in time only the freaks of nature compete?”

    Ummm, yes. Sports is all about the bigger/faster/stronger a person can get without resorting to illegal substances. A swimmer with a size 16 foot has a major advantage over a swimmer with a ‘normal’ size foot. Not everyone can do everything. Should I be upset that I’m not flexible enough to do olympic gymnastics? Should all those who are super flexible be restricted to what I can do simply to make it fair???

    The only time you have a level playing field is in a motor racing event where all the vehicles are identical. Actually even then you have massive variations in the abilities and reflexes of the drivers…

  19. No. She should compete in the special section with the special kids!

    OK, now I’m just teasing. Fine, let her have her dream. Even if it is at the expense of others.

    I’m just bitter because I was always crap at PE. :D

  20. Julian Morrison 9 Sep 2009, 11:12pm

    All Olympic athletes are freakish – far more so than mere gender bending. Consider the numbers of trans and intersex people versus the number of world record holders. But to call an individual a freak goes beyond pointing out rarity: it’s about public humiliation as a whip to punish abnormality and scare the audience into conformity. The essence of “gender defender”. Lucius you should be ashamed for using it. Please stop and question your own motives.

  21. @Julian:

    Sorry to disappoint you, sweetheart. I don’t do PC.

    My motives have always been crystal clear: to use humor (sometimes pitch-black) against all kinds of taboos, stereotypes and prejudices.

    I was born to the most racist, xenophobic, nationalistic, homophobic family imaginable. I was called a fag at school and a Slavic rat in the middle of Berlin. You know, just for opening my mouth. How can you cope with such ignorance and bigotry if not with laughter? I say mock it, ridicule it and expose it.

    I’m always most suspicious of those in my company that are most bothered with my humor. Those that protest too much. You just know they’re only tolerant for the sake of tolerance.

    And please refrain yourself from telling another person to be ashamed. Of anything; themselves, their actions or their words. The Church has the shame part covered, believe me. You may not know it, but you belittle yourself immensely when you say that.

    But no hard feeling, eh? ;)

  22. I meant “feelings”, of course. I haet when this happens! :D

  23. This is a good article. The quote at the end shows that Semenya has a healthy attitude towards this PR stunt, “I didn’t do this to prove a point but rather to have fun. I don’t give a damn what people say about me. I like me the way I am and who cares what other people say?” Semenya told the magazine.”

    It is understandable, given the society we live in, that Semenya gave in to her advisors to do this photo shoot, but it does not mean she has sold out – she just had fun with it. We should also consider that in her country, South Africa, there is a growing trend for ‘corrective rapes’ by men who think that unfeminine women or lesbians need a man to rape them in order to ‘cure’ them. http://www.takepart.com/blog/2009/03/14/corrective-rape-growing-in-south-africa/
    Doing this photo shoot might actually help ensure her safety.

    The results of the tests are not in yet. There are several possible outcomes I can think of.

    She might be shown to be a genetically-typical woman.

    She might have an ‘intersex’ condition. This is a “general term used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male.” It is estimated that one in 5000 people have some form of intersex condition – and most people are completely unaware that they do. Some intersex conditions would exclude her from competing in women’s events and some would not. For instance, Santhi Soundarajan was an Indian athlete who won the women’s 800m in the 2006 Asian Games. When tested, she was found to have an intersex condition called Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome (AIS), where she has a ‘Y’ chromosome but is insensitive to the effects of testosterone. So, she was born with a female body with a vagina but without ovaries or uterus. She never knew there was any difference between her and other girls/women until the test. It was such a shock and humiliation that she attempted suicide, but she is now okay and is an Indian athletics coach. In her case, as with Caster Semenya’s, the athletic authorities failed to follow their own confidentiality protocols. Usually, women with AIS look ‘more’ feminine that other women because they do not have any body or facial hair and are often more curvy.

    Here are some other examples of women athletes who have ‘failed’ gender tests and been found to have intersex conditions (much to their own surprise): http://transgriot.blogspot.com/2009/09/thats-man.html

    Caster might have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (POS), where lots of little cysts on the ovaries cause the ovaries to produce varying amounts of testosterone. This can cause increased body hair, facial hair, muscular growth and weight gain (in non-athletes). This is a very common condition and would not exclude her from competing in women’s athletics. In some extreme cases, if the levels of testosterone are high, it can cause the pitch of the voice to lower. It would not be a surprise if Semenya has this common condition. http://www.patient.co.uk/health/Polycystic-Ovary-Syndrome.htm

    It could also be that someone gave her testosterone, making her more muscular and strong. There were allegations about Semenya’s head coach, when she was a trainer in East Germany during the 1970s and 80s, that she was giving some of the female athletes testosterone jabs.
    http://www.universalsports.com/ViewArticle.dbml?ATCLID=204786180&DB_OEM_ID=23000
    If such jabs were given before or during her early puberty then this will never be detected by tests now and so we would never know unless someone brings evidence to light. However, she has been found to have high levels of testosterone now, so this would suggest either recent injections or a medical condition like polycystic ovaries.

    If she is ‘cleared’ by the tests, either because she is 100% a woman or because she has an ‘acceptable’ intersex or other medical condition, then I hope the athletics community will finally learn its lesson. The privacy protocols are there for a good reason.

    If she has been taking testosterone injections then she deserves to be stripped of her medal and banned from athletics.

    Lastly, what if she was born physically ‘male’ as some people are suggesting? Her family say she has always been a girl so this is unlikely. However, even if she did have gender reassignment, under international rules she would still be allowed to compete after two years of living as a women and taking female hormones. This is the case with Canadian cyclist, Michelle Dumaresq. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michelle_Dumaresq
    Since 2004, the International Olympic Committee (IOC), whose rules are used commonly throughout competitive sport, has allowed transsexuals to compete as their reassigned gender if the surgery has taken place at least two years prior to the competition and if the athlete has been on a regimen of hormones equal to that of a person born to the gender.

  24. Pumpkin Pie 10 Sep 2009, 2:40pm

    She’s inexperienced, so you can’t pin it down to a genius technique or something of the sort.

    Genius technique? No, in my chess example I was referring to people who are natural geniuses. Some people have photographic memories and are able to do a staggering amount of mathematical calculations naturally. Exactly the same thing as Semenya, just mentally (which, technically, is still physical). Should these people not be allowed to compete?

  25. in 2006 Floyd Landis took an overdose of testosterone and won the Tour de France and now this little girl has also a overdose of tertosterone, it makes you think there is something not right?

  26. The fact that a woman has high testosterone levels in her blood doesn’t mean her body’s processing it in such a way as to make her any stronger than any other woman – women with Complete Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome, for example, are people with an intersex condition which means they’ve much more testosterone in the blood, but it just cannot be processed. Ironically, as all foetuses basically start out female and then develop along a range of paths, a woman with CAIS will have begun to develop as male but one of the genes didn’t function that way, so her development will have continued as female by default. She’ll have been born looking female, and will probably never know about her condition unless she’s tested for fertility problems later on.

    So this stuff can get pretty complex. Here’s a really cool interactive explanation of gender testing:
    http://www.hhmi.org/biointeractive/gendertest/gendertest.html

  27. It’s an unfair advantage because almost all the women she is going to be competing against (probably all) will not have 4x the testosterone. This is why the sexes are segregated. There is obviously a medical condition going on if her levels are this high, and therefore, she should not be competing. Or, the other women should be allowed to legally have 4x the amount of normal testosterone in THEIR bodies. This is not fair.

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