Runner Caster Semenya and Family Should Understand Gender Questions

If all is not as it seems, why would sprinter's family run from gender questions?


By Bonnie Erbe, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

The strange and getting stranger case of Caster Semenya has sprung some incredible tangents. In an online video, her father says he is offended by international sports experts' efforts to prove she is a biological female, even though she looks and talks like a man. While objecting to his daughter's gender tests, he also told the Guardian online:

"Her structure and physique is like that of a man you can see, she is built like me exactly like me."

So why is he objecting to other people questioning her apparently male attributes? My question is, if her build is obviously male, and her relatives are saying as a child she played football with boys and wore pants, why was she raised as a female?

I understand why parents might raise a biological boy who identifies female as a female (the New York Times had a fabulous article about this several years back and I wrote columns on it at the time). But I do not understand why they would then be angry at the world for questioning her gender when she then used her obvious biological advantage to compete in the sports world, whether as an amateur or professional.

The furor erupted after the 18-year-old Ms. Semenya won a gold medal in track at a world meet in Berlin.

Caster Semenya, 18, is undergoing a gender test to prove she is female after beating her rivals by a huge margin to win the gold medal in the world championship 800 metres in Berlin.

Family, friends and teachers at her home in South Africa recalled how Semenya played football with boys, wore trousers instead of skirts and endured teasing by her peers. But all asserted that she is definitely a woman.

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