Apr 2, 201005:37 PMPlaying for Our Team
Lesbian Sports blog
Semena Wants To Return To Competitive Running
Considering the latest discussion swirling around Brittney Griner and Baylor’s advancement to the Women’s Final Four, I thought it was rather interesting that Caster Semenya announced this week that she would like to return to competitive racing. I’ve read numerous articles about both women, and some of the comments that people leave are horrible, degrading and absolutely close-minded. One abrasive commenter kept referring to Griner as “it.” Another commenter said that she might have a “transgender condition” and her parents should be aware of it.
Um, being transgendered isn’t a “condition.” But I won’t go into that right now.
When I wrote about how Griner wasn’t pushing gender boundaries on purpose, and that people cast judgment on her simply because she has a different genetic build than most women, I was trying to make a simple point. She had no control over the make-up of her body. Yet people accuse her of having an unfair advantage, saying she has too many male characteristics to be truly female. The bottom line is that Griner is being judged by the way she looks. But what people fail to remember is the fact that it’s not her fault that she has these characteristics. It’s the way her body was built. And instead of whining about it, she decided to use her body’s gift in a positive way through basketball. Griner has been judged her entire young life for being different, and she found the one place where she fits right in—on the basketball court.
Unlike Griner, Semeneya has been forced to “prove” her gender. There are rumors (not confirmed reports) that she is a hermaphrodite, which means that she was born with both female and male sex organs. If this is true, why should she have to be penalized for something she has no control over? Semenya wants to race because she loves to run. She believes that she should be allowed to race because she has done nothing wrong. And I agree. It’s not like she took performance-enhancing drugs. She was born that way.
If Griner underwent tests that revealed she was also a hermaphrodite, many people would want her to stop playing women’s basketball. Why? She has a stronger build than most females, but she is not strong enough to compete with men. Where should she be allowed to play? In the hermaphrodite league? Where should Semenya be allowed to run? In the hermaphrodite category? Are we going to just keep on discriminating people based on their genetic make-up, or have we not learned a thing?
Yes, Semenya may have both female and male sex organs. But if Semenya identifies as female, who are we to tell her otherwise? Here’s another question. What if Griner underwent tests that proved she is completely female? What would you think then? Would you still accuse her of having an unfair advantage? Would you still think something is wrong with her because she has a low voice?
Would you still call her, “it?”
Blogger Bio: Lyndsey D'Arcangelo is a versatile writer, having experience as a journalist, copywriter, author, freelancer and blogger. She is the author of the Golden Crown Literary Society Award-winning book, The Trouble with Emily Dickinson (also a Lambda Literary Award finalist). Her recent novel, The Crabapple Tree, was published in May 2009. In addition to writing short stories and novels, Lyndsey also contributes regularly to a variety of national and local publications. Visit lyndseydarcangelo.com for more information.