Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Tackling Gender Binarism When it Comes to Gold Medal Runner

Gold medalist runner Caster Semenya of South Africa has come under intense scrutiny after exceeding her own time record and winning a gold medal . She has been accused of falsifying her identity and being charged with being born a male. The spotlight on her is misogynist and completely disregards the multitude of gender expressions. Semenya is being forced to undergo a long and difficult process known as sex-determination. She has been very depressed and even wanted to boycott her own award ceremony.

Velvet Park posted this video below of Dave Zirin, sports writer for The Nation who does an excellent job explaining how sexist, and transphobic this news item has become and tries to break down gender binarism by explaining that there are multitude of sexes and gender identities.

Photo courtesy of Erik van Leeuwen on Wikimedia Commons.


Anonymous said...

As soon as I heard this story on the BBC, I saw it for what it was, although the BBC presentation didn't pick up on the points of gender bigotry and misogyny and focused on racial attitudes, which are probably also playing a part here. I am so angry about this. I feel so bad for Caster Semenya, and I hope that somehow she finds some enlightened people to support her. What she is being put through is brutal and obscene. I mean, a gender determination test, in what may as well be public view? What fucking year is this? Who cares what the "results" are--they should just leave this kid alone.

Kudos to Dave Zirin for being a voice of empathy and awareness (a rarity in the world of sports journalism, as far as I'm concerned.) I saw him on CNN with Campbell Brown tonight and was already impressed with him before I saw this link. The ignorance of people in the general media towards any story dealing with multiple gender identity is really on display here: they simply have no idea.

mark said...

you're missing the entire point. its not that she cant compete as a transexual or as someone with a different gender identity. it's that she just cant compete as a female, if she is not strictly female. she can still compete as a male, if she wants. and i'm sure she could compete at differently gendered games if they existed. it's already been shown that she has three times the level of testosterone as regular female athletes, because of her gender grey area (or because of doping) so either way obviously its not fair to them to let her compete against them.

CrackerLilo said...

I wonder how one can go about sending some signal of support to Caster Semenya, where she can see that there are people who sympathize with her and want to see her do well. I have been upset by this for a few days now. It upsets me that this talented athlete didn't want to show up to her own awards ceremony because of some peoples' ideas about gender. I just want to hug her.

Thanks also to Dave Zirin. I'm glad there's a sportswriter who gets it.

Joy Reed said...

They should have investigated this before the race.

Mrs. M. said...

i feel so bad for her. This major accomplishment and it's being overshadowed by something that's probably crap to begin with. Maybe those other chicks should just be faster.

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