In this continuing Caster Semenya saga, which - if she’s in fact a lady, as tests will soon “prove,” must be humiliating for her, one of our favorite details is that the letters in her name rearrange to spell “Yes, A Secret Man” and some people are taking that as a sign that it’s true, she must be in fact a man. Disregard the fact, of course, that rearranging names is utter nonsense; after all, our own Pete O. Gaines‘ name* rearranges to spell “Penis Goatee,” but that doesn’t mean anything.
But the main crux of the case against Semenya, aside from the fact that she’s absolutely destroying the competition, is that with clothes on, superficially, she doesn’t bear much resemblance to a woman. So one magazine got an idea: Let’s make her over and put some clothes on her that make her superficially resemble a woman! Problem solved?
South African runner Caster Semenya, whose gender was queried by athletics officials, has defended her looks and taken part in a makeover in a magazine.
Ms Semenya, the 800m world champion, posed for the cover of South Africa’s You magazine.
“I am who I am and I am proud of myself,” the 18-year-old said.
“I’d like to dress up more often and wear dresses but I never get the chance,” she said as she was photographed in several outfits.
Okay, she looks more like a woman here. But if this is an issue that actually requires chemical gender testing that takes weeks to complete, whether she enjoys wearing a dress or what she does to her hair is irrelevant either way, right? What purpose does this actually serve, other than to convince the kneejerkers whose opinion doesn’t matter to begin with?
As we mentioned before, this must be humiliating for Semenya - provided, of course, that she’s “actually” a woman. There’s probably so many shades of gray when it comes to gender identity that don’t fit into either category that this crusade’s not going to be easily resolved. Like, suppose it comes back that she has highly elevated levels of natural testosterone, but she was born a woman. Okay, then what? Kick her out for being too chemically predisposed to athleticism? That would be grossly unfair - to say nothing of a giant deterrent to other masculine-looking women who might want to get into sports.
Obviously, we’re not going to be able to get to the bottom of what “man” or “woman” means - whether in real life or for the sake of classification for athletic and Olympic purposes - by the end of this article. There are too many valid opinions and too many variables to even approach the notion of consensus on this subject. But if Semenya’s kicked out for - essentially - too closely resembling a male person in her musculature, then this sets a disturbing and unfortunate precedent for the rest of women’s athletics.
*We don’t know what his middle initial is; in fact, we’re pretty sure it’s not O. But when you have a chance to write “penis goatee” as part of a larger point, you take it, damn it.