Summary of article
South African sprinter Caster Semenya’s the world is now waiting to see if she is truly a woman, the article give commentary on the controversy about this athletes sex i.e. male female or something in between. The commentator argues that this story puts gender and Trans issues in the spotlight in particular the
“Mass media reporting on gender identity issues is sensationalist, prurient and tinged with faint disgust. Tabloid treatment of those who seek to change gender often portrays them as freaks and, especially in the case of male-to-female transitions, deviants.” It cites how a number of newspapers have run lengthy articles discussing how sex is medically classified and explaining the spectrum of disorders of sexual development, from intersexuality and Klinefelter’s Syndrome to congenital adrenal hyperplasia.
It makes the following key points
- Many people, including some in the medical profession, view issues such as gender dysphoria as mental illnesses.
- What sex, in the biological sense, actually is? Is it an outward physical construct, a question of chromosomes, a mental state?
- Some female athletes over the years have been found to be chromosomally male, despite identifying and being classed in all other respects as female.
- Some gender theorists believe the concept of gender should be abolished but in sectors such as sport, it is difficult to see how this can be done.
What I believe
Increasingly it seems that when defining either sex or gender, it is heavily shaped by our perceptions or how we understand something to be.
While sex has biological roots, a simplistic heteronormative dyadic worldview heavily defines it, either as male or female and sees any other as deviant requiring medical or scientific intervention.
Gender is a social construct, which changes over time and from location to location i.e. how a man or woman understood himself, or herself in 1940’s Australia is completely different to now. Alternately, how a man or woman understands himself or herself in Nukuʻalofa when compared to a citizen of Paris.
A rule of thumb often applied is that the individual defines their gender and out of respect, we validate their view.
The view that gender categories have little real value other than to maintain social inequity really needs further consideration, because of their centrality in allowing some to define themselves in the Qmunity.
Are these categories a necessary evil?