Caster Semenya Controversy

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Caster Semenya Controversy

By | Feb. 2013
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The Controversy over Caster Semenya

The article titled “Caster Semenya An the IOC’s Olympics Gender Bender” by Jesse Ellison reviews the controversy over Caster Semenya, the now 21-year-old intersexed athlete, and whether or not she should be allowed to compete as a female in international competition. After winning gold at the World Athletic Championship in Berlin, Semenya was put through various testing, until finally cleared as a woman. The belief was that she had an unfair advantage, due to the amount of testosterone that she produced when compared to the average woman. This was not the first time that this problem had arose in competition, however, each time the topic had arose, the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) struggled to find a clear cut answer in what defined a male and what defined a female.

The first time in which this same issue had been raised, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) set up gender tests in which the women competitors would strip down and walk before a panel of judges; this was called ‘nude parades’. Later yet, after realizing the flaws in this gender test, the IOC started conducting chromosome testing, in which it was believed that women should express two X chromosomes. However, this method of testing was also abandoned shortly after, due to the fact that women can indeed produce only one X chromosome. The third method of testing conducted was SRY gene detection, which was also quickly discarded after numerous women tested positive yet were cleared for competition. In the end, the IOC decided to give up on testing altogether, this was however, until the case of Caster Semenya arose just recently.

In the upcoming of the controversy over Caster Semenya’s true gender, the IOC brought together twenty-four professionals, who begun to debate what truly defined a female from a male, and what kinds of testing could be done to identify them. Their final conclusion was that what separated men from woman...