Caster Semenya is a record-breaking South African sprinter whose times are so crazy good that the opponents she smoked last month claim that her muscular physique and lack of lipstick are indicators that she’s secretly male.
I’ve been following this story with interest, because I think Semenya’s case raises some discussion-worthy equity implications (1, 2, 3, to name a few). And no matter what the ruling is regarding the sport’s determination of her biological sex, the whole issue is being spectacularly mishandled.
Anyway, here’s a fabulous roundup of the history and procedures surrounding gender testing in sports. Turns out sex-verification is more complex than it sounds, and here’s an interactive quiz where you get to examine, test, and then ascribe a sex designation to a fictional, virtual athlete.
* PS, the scientist in me hates using the word “gender” (a sociological term) where I should be using the word “sex” (a biological term). But it doesn’t sound right to say “sex-testing”, that sounds kind of… like… what kind of tests are we doing, exactly, and who’s doing the grading? I’m just saying.
PPS, Whatever. I pretty much conked the scientist in me over the head with a liberal dose of theatre school and a lifetime of snacking on artificial cheez products which are not technically food at all, so her complaints are quite faint.