Gender definition by Susan Grimsdell
There could hardly be a more modern problem than the one facing Caster Semenya, the South African 800m Olympic champion.
She is defined as an athlete with “Differences of Sex Development”. Her testosterone levels are apparently higher than the Olympic Committee accepts for a person to be categorised as female. If Caster wants to go on competing in the women’s races, she will have to take oral contraceptives to bring those pesky levels down.
Sports scientists estimate that if she does take the pill, it will cost her about 7 seconds over the 800m. That would have been the difference between finishing first and last in the 2016 Olympic final. Setting aside the incredibly small difference between the gold medal and oblivion, what a dilemma for her and for the sport, one that simply didn’t exist in the old days when “men were men and women knew their place”. Seriously, now that gender is considered a choice, and many different options are available, what is the impact on women’s struggle to gain some kind of fairness, not only in sport, but in the boardroom too.
Anyone can see that a person born with male genitalia and subsequent physique, tends to be bigger, faster, stronger, than one born with female genitalia and physique. That’s why we have separate men’s and women’s events. If men-who-choose-to-be-women can be included in women’s Olympic teams, whether weightlifting, running, swimming, whatever, the women might as well give up, as they’re never going to win, no way.
If corporates make an effort towards gender equality on the executive or any other level, would the men-choosing to-be-women be able to take a place that might have been set aside for a person born and bred and hormonally – a woman? The ramifications of this problem are wide and deep and could extend into many facets of life. I certainly don’t have any answers. I’m only just becoming aware of the problem! But my heart goes out to Caster Semenya.