Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Gender verification in women's tennis

I thought this story was going to be a little more controversy laden when I read Diane's snippet about the gender verification of professional tennis player Sarah Gronert from Germany.
Of course the controversy could be larger than the article is letting on. After all they only say that Gronert was born with male and female genitalia but has been living and certified as a female since birth. Kudos to the writer for not referring to her as a hermaphrodite. But someone should have explained what exactly Gronert's condition is.
I think they should have, anyway. I kind of have mixed feelings about this. If it had been explained that Gronert has one of any number of genetic conditions, it might have helped defer some of the controversy and some of the apparently vicious comments she continues to encounter. (Apparently not everyone has seen that Oprah episode.)
On the other hand, do we really need to know? Is it a bit voyeuristic of us to demand explanations for every non-conforming body?
Which of course leads to the problematic issues of conforming and non-conforming bodies. What counts? Who decides? Etc.
I imagine Gronert's case will be invoked by various scholars in sport studies, sociology, queer theory, etc. because there are so few known cases of intersex individuals in sport. And most of those cases have troubled histories. Perhaps Gronert's will be a little less tragic.

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