Monday, December 18, 2006

Dude, writers are pricks. (with obvious exceptions) recently reported that an Asian Games silver medal winner had her medals stripped from her because she failed a gender test. However, unlike Helen Stephens, Shanti Sounderajan was not a "cheater". Stephens won the gold medal in the women's 100 Meter dash in 1936, setting a new world record in the process. She was accused of being a man, but the charge was denied. However, in 1980 she was killed in a robbery and it was discovered that she had male genitalia, despite living as a woman all of her life (my favorite professor in college recently wrote a screenplay about Stephens's life). Instead, Sounderajan is physically and mentally female, but genetically a little too "male" because she had a hidden "Y" chromosome.

Understand, this is a 25 year old woman who trained very hard and due to something completely beyond her control she is now losing her medal and further probably will never be able to have children. Beyond the fact that "gender" is very contentiously defined, everyone in professional sports are "genetic freaks" in one way or another. If indeed this genetic accident did give her some marginal advantage, how different is that from the fact that most of the NBA is in the top .001% of the population for height? Every woman competing in the 800 meters at that level is in the top 1% of the population in fast-twitch-slow-twitch muscle ratio and lung capacity.

Imagine if you had trained for years to be among the best at a very competitive field and in order to clear your name of completely ridiculous allegations, as she must have assumed they were, you submitted to a voluntary test. Only to fail the test due to no fault of your own, in the process losing your coveted job forever and to top it off, you become the punch line to thousands of jokes around the world. Including at, where the title of the article is "Dude looks like a lady." If you lost your career and your prospects of having a family, at least you wouldn't have to do it while enduring international attention and derision from idiots. If this had happened in America then gay rights groups would indubitably be up in arms both about's insensitivity and the unfairness of taking away her medal. In my academic writing experience, when referring to a transsexual person the chosen gender pronoun is supposed to be used. This is one of the most depressing stories I have heard this year and I wish Shanti all the best in the future and in her appeal.

Update: I notice that article is an AP article, so it is possible that the title is also AP. In which case is just the monkey throwing the shit around as opposed to the one creating it.

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