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I am whatever YOU think I am until YOU get to KNOW me. This is true for everyone else too, of course.. so don't make assumptions about anyone or pass judgment; ask questions. You might just make a new friend.

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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

¿WHAT MAKES A REAL WOMAN?




Have you been following the story of Caster Semenya, the South African track star whose sex is being questioned after she won the 800 meters in the World Track and Field Championships about two weeks ago? Although she won the race, the 18 year old is being made to undergo "sex-determination testing" to see if she is indeed a woman. As someone who has been mistaken for a female a few times, I can certainly empathize with Semenya and as far as I know, I am ALL MAN! But this does brings up the question, "What makes someone female?" I don't know the kind of testing they are going to do on Semenya, but I can assume it's more complicated than looking under her track suit. Why? Because gender and sex are more complicated than that. In fact, the Intersex Society of North American estimates that in 1 in 1500-2000 births, children are born with "ambiguous genitalia" and doctors determine which sex to assign a child. But they also say there are even subtler forms of gender variance. Semenya has been subject to all kinds of media attention and some pretty mean things said about her. One of her competitors was quoted in the New York Times as saying, “These kind of people should not run with us. For me, she’s not a woman. She’s a man.” But this isn't simple homophobia. It is treading into much murkier water: the idea that what makes a man and what makes a woman is not black and white as they would like to believe. I can't claim any knowledge of her genetic makeup, but what if Semenya does have one of the naturally occurring variations of human chromosomes other than XX? This should not disqualify her from competing. Would this variance give her an unfair advantage? If so, then shouldn't Michael Phelps be disqualified for his "perfect body for swimming?" The International Olympic Committee has determined that transsexual athletes can compete in the Olympics. If Caster Semenya identifies as female, then she should be allowed compete as such. END OF STORY! WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS?

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