Policing gender and sex through sport

By Rajeev Ravisankar,

In January, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) convened a so-called gender symposium in which medical ‘experts’ concluded that intersex athletes should be treated as having a medical disorder, and that eligibility of such athletes be decided on a case-by-case basis. They also suggested that photographs of athletes be taken and sent to experts to determine whether the athlete might have a “Disorder of Sex Development” (DSD) and called for the establishment of ‘centers of excellence’ to handle treatment.

This is a response to the controversy around South African sprinter Caster Semenya. Last summer, Semenya won the gold medal in the 800 meter race at the World Athletics Championships. However, through different stages of competition she had to go through a battery of tests following doubts regarding her sex. Some of her competitors rejected Semenya as a female. Italian runner Elisa Cusman said “These kind of people should not run with us” and “For me, she is not a woman. She is a man.”

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