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Hard-hitting gender story about Caster Semenya situation

KW: I have excerpted the story from The Root/repost at Reclaim the Media below about Caster Semenya and gender testing. The story itself is even more controversial. One thing is that the article seems nearly cruel, in naming the ugly ideas that other people have about Caster. Difficult to decide in a situation like this: Do you name the ugly thoughts? Does naming them conquer them? Or, spread them?

Pull quotes:

“But the tests are, of course, rigged—because witch hunts always produce witches.”

“Results of the gender investigation aside, Caster Semenya’s humanity has already been sacrificed to Western culture’s desperate, frightened effort to maintain the fiction of binary, fixed gender.”

(excerpt from) Reclaim the Media
Semenya’s race and sex struggle
by Kai Wright, The Root

It’s important to note that no one believes she has masqueraded as a woman. Rather, the hypothesis is that she’s been confused her whole life. “Clearly it was not her fault,” IAAF spokesperson Nick Davies told the BBC, in speculating about what it’ll mean if she fails her gender exam. “It’s a medical issue. … She was born, christened and grew up a woman.” She just might not be one, at least not by [The International Association of Athletics Federations] IAAF’s standards.

So now she must endure a stunning battery of tests, stretching far past a mere dropping of the trousers. Davies explains: “There is chromosome testing, gynecological investigation, all manner of things, organs, X-rays, scans. … It’s very, very comprehensive.”…

[Editor’s note: A recent news report suggests that Americans are harmed by over-exposure to radiation due to unnecessary medical testing. How could someone submit a young woman to x-rays and radiation, merely for the sake of a sport? a game? A Los Angeles Times article notes, “Radiation is known to cause cancer, typically years after exposure. By some estimates, medical testing radiation contributes 2% of all cancer cases, but experts fear that it may be higher in the future as more and more patients are exposed to these relatively new procedures.”]

…Many observers, including Semenya’s mom, have called this absurdity racism—white folks imposing their self-centered notions of femininity, once again.

That may be true, but there’s more to this than race. After all, Semenya’s South African defenders seem most appalled by the assertion that she’s not adequately gender normative…

…But the reality is that Semenya may be neither “boy” nor “girl,” or could be both. And who cares? It happens. Our social certainty about the male-female divide is not supported by biology. As Northwestern University bioethics professor Alice Dreger told the New York Times last week, “As I like to say, ‘Humans like categories neat, but nature is a slob.’ ”Children are routinely born with cellular variation on the XX and XY chromosome sets that define boy and girl status. Hormone levels vary, too, as do the secondary traits we associate with a given sex. People have large, protruding clitorises; scrotums divided such that they look like labia; inactive hormone receptors and on and on. Anywhere from 1 in 1,500 to 1 in 2,000 births require specialists to assign a child’s sex, according to the Intersex Society of North America. After these assignments are made, cruel plastic surgeries to “correct” perfectly natural physical variations are often performed for no medical purpose whatsoever. Kids are mutilated to ensure they fit comfortably inside our mythical gender boxes.

We cling to this lie of binary genders for the same reason we fantasize about the essential nature of race: to make unjust social hierarchies seem natural. But they’re not. They’re man-made, and competitive sports have long been a tool for keeping them in place…

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