What Defines a Woman?

Caster Semenya, a double Olympic champion from South Africa, has been exposed to the worst aspects of women’s sport: gender testing. The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAFF) has a regulation that says female athletes classed as having differences in sexual development (DSD) gain an unfair advantage due to higher levels of testosterone in the blood.

Semenya, who has endured extensive sex testing in the past, is awaiting a Court of Arbitration for Sport verdict on her appeal against the IAAF’s regulation for female athletes with DSD’s. Under new regulations, athletes like Semenya will be required to reduce their blood testosterone level to below 5 nmol/L continuously for six months prior to being able to compete. The Court has postponed its impending announcement of a decision until late April.

Semenya claims she is no threat to women’s sport. In an article by Stephanie L. Young she investigates the Semenya case by analyzing “how female athletic bodies are displayed, disciplined, and fit into sexist and racist discourses due to gendered athleticism.”

Semenya was born, raised, and socialized as a woman, and she competes as a woman. She does not wish to undergo medical intervention to change who she is, she wishes to continue to compete naturally.

Featured image: Caster Semenya (Karim Jaafar/AFP/Getty Images)


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