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Thread: Runner Caster Semenya: man or woman?

  1. #1

    Default Runner Caster Semenya: man or woman?

    Gold Medalist Runner Caster Semenya: Man or Woman? - ABC News

    There are various gender issues on this site...I wanted to know where everyone's at on this one.

    I guess my thing is that if Caster Semenya has a Y chromosone and was born a male (yes there are some instances where a woman can have a Y chromosone, but just go with me here), then she's a man and should have to compete against men.

    Yes, she may have changed her genitals, but that still doesn't make her entirely a woman for sporting purposes. There could be many instances where desperate men who couldn't compete against their peers get sex changes and dominate the women's events. Yeah, it sounds extreme, but have you ever been around someone training for the Olympics? They're fucking nuts.

    My point being that such an instance would give male-to-female transgenders an advantage in the women's events, but it wouldn't give a woman the ability to change her sex and dominate in the men's events. Seems kind of unfair, and it would irrevocably change women's sports. Hell, it would eradicate them, because women simply can't compete against men in sports.

    (Although...tell that to Bobby Riggs after that Billie Jean King

    I dunno. That's my

    What do you guys think?

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    Genetic testing will tell us I assume until then I won't say Caster is a woman or a man since right now it's up in the air.

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    I'm honestly not sure, as unfortunately it does leave the door open to exactly what you said. People may think it's far fetched, but stop and remember what some of these people will do to themselves with steroids if not caught.

    I can't think of a good argument for either side, without an equal negative.

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    Fire2box: Yeah, the testing hasn't been done yet, but I was looking for speculative opinions at this point.

    Mako: Yeah, it's a lose-lose. I have to side with keeping women's sports intact at this point, because it simply isn't fair if (former) men can compete against them. Meh.

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    I think there's potentially a whole lotta gray area to this. The runner could very well be a female (genetically XX, uterus and ovaries, however you want to physically define it) with naturally high testosterone levels (I've known a few). She could also have an actual intersex condition that wasn't discovered at birth (not all of them are so obvious). She wouldn't have control over either of these things. So should she be disqualified for having a naturally different hormonal balance compared to most women? It's not like she's shooting steroids, but the added testosterone could give her an edge over other women, as far as muscle is concerned. Is it fair to deny someone a gold medal because of a condition they can't control? Not really. But is it also fair to let Caster compete against other women runners who don't have the benefit of extra natural testosterone (presuming Caster does have abnormally high levels)? No.

    I wouldn't want to be the one making the call on this.

    Quote Originally Posted by balancedchaos View Post
    Yes, she may have changed her genitals, but that still doesn't make her entirely a woman for sporting purposes.
    Just curious: what about male-to-female transsexuals would give them an unfair advantage? Male-to-female transsexuals generally take anti-androgens, estrogen, and/or progesterone to closely approximate a female hormone balance. The anti-androgens block testosterone from affecting their bodies and their reduction in muscle mass is dramatic, especially in the upper body. These hormones must be taken for at least a year before genital surgery will be approved, and even after that amount of time the change is marked. The testes are then removed during genital surgery, making anti-androgens unnecessary and permanently taking away the body's ability to produce testosterone in the male range. It may take a few years for full effect, but by the end of it the person is left with musculature that more closely resembles that of a female than that of a male.

    The only thing left would be a frame that is statistically taller than the average female. But even that is not a given; just as there are very short men, there are very short male-to-female transsexuals. Heck, then there are the women (born female) who top six foot; a bit out of the ordinary, yes, but would they be barred from competing against other women because of their height?

    So what is it about male-to-female transsexuals that would make them formidable opponents that no woman could hope to beat?
    Last edited by Tygon; 02-Sep-2009 at 04:11.

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  7. #7


    Variance in testosterone level is not a reason to kick somebody out of a female race. Simply put: if she is found to have any reasonable amount of genetic, chemical and other markers signifying she is a woman, with no history of interference to ensure that does happen, then she is a woman and should be allowed to race with them.

    I find it ironic that South Africa, a country notorious for intolerance, has been willing to adopt and honor this young woman, while the rest of the 'civilized' world is trying to think of how she tricked them.

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    I think Tygon touched on the right lines with what they meant.
    As far as I understood it at the time, the question was not if she were a man or a woman, that would be a simple test and wouldn't take much time. The IAAF were saying that it's a whole battery of tests that actually takes months. Based on this they must be referring to her hormone levels and other such qualities. It may be the case she was born a woman, is a woman, but has higher levels of a certain chemical that give her an advantage over other woman.

    I think suspicions were raised not because she did well and may not look the most woman-like, but because in trials she knocked something like 6 seconds off her PB in one go and came from nowhere - that's enough to make anyone suspicious.

    As for morals, it's a very grey area. If she's a man who's had a sex change then that's wrong. However if (as may be the case) she is a woman but with abnormal hormone levels then it's a lose-lose situation. It's not really fair to disqualify her for something she can't control, but it's also not fair on the other athletes. I guess it all comes down to how much of an advantage it actually gives her, I mean bolt is way out ahead of anyone else, but I don't see anyone trying to disqualify him.

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