As widely reported, the International Association of Athletics Federations has ordered a gender test of South African athlete Caster Semenya, a woman whose physical characteristics have more masculine signifiers than female. She has faced a lifetime of such challenges, yet it is possible that she could still fail this testing, because there are so many ambiguities. Hey, I wonder if all that genetic variation that has allowed our species (and others, of course) to adapt and evolve has something to do with these gender “gray areas”? They certainly defy the stricter — sexist, gay panicked — codes patriarchal societies across the globe want to impose.
Semenya’s experience no doubt resonates with many transgendered folks. A trans woman in Pennsylvania has filed a suit against Manpower, because one of the temp agency’s local offices demanded a gender certification from her doctor, including a picture of her genitals. Someone seriously thought this was a reasonable request? WTF!? “Hey, you want a ten dollar an hour job? Show us your junk!” Insensitive, dehumanizing and seriously fucked up. Yet such are the mainstream culture’s views of the trans community, perpetuated by both religious righties promoting “reparative therapy” and high profile comedians going for cheap laughs.