Saturday, March 21, 2009

Define Girl


On Friday's AOL Health:

Tennis Controversy: Female Player (with Male Past)
By Mary Kearl

Who does a person born with both male and female sex organs, but identifies as one gender in particular compete against in sex-segregated sporting events?

Sarah Gronert, a 22-year-old tennis pro from Germany who was born with both male and female genitalia, has chosen to compete against women, and that has some in the tennis community up in arms. "There is no girl who can hit serves like that, not even Venus Williams," says the coach of an opponent Gronert recently beat. The coach, Schlomo Tzoref, also claims, "This is not a woman, it's a man." Is Tzoref just a disgruntled coach, trying to stir up controversy, or is there any validity? What makes a man a man, and what makes a woman a woman -- and how does either affect one's ability to win?

Now, I just don't know what to say. She LOOKS like a girl to me. And I've seen a lot of girls. But maybe I'm not looking in the right place.

How should we define female and male? By chromosomes? By sex hormones? By looks?

Personally, I think we should let the person define themselves. If she *feels* like a girl, she's a girl.

37 comments:

Cora said...

Let the girl be a girl, I say!

She doesn't look like a man to me>

Fortune Cookies said...

I agree. Gender is such a blurry territory, yet society still sees it as black and white. There are truly so many inbetweens...

Isabella Snow said...

I think you are whatever you think you are. But. When it comes to competitive sports like this -- a man would have an unfair advantage wrt upper body definition/strength. I dunno what she looks like in a tanktop; but if she's built like a man, I'd say she needs to compete against men if she wants to compete. But then, maybe she's built like a woman. RuPaul looks like a woman, too!

Awake In Rochester said...

Now you have me looking between my legs. lol

I know someone who was born with both. Her parents gave her male hormones, and told her they were B-12 vitamin shots. She was tricked into being a man, but she felt like a woman. She ended up a woman by choice. It's a long story.

Anyway, I agree with you. If it's a toss-up, then I think it should be the persons call. However, competing against one particular sex in sports can be a confusing issue.


PS- She wanted to date me, but I guess that is yet another story.

LilliGirl said...

Hmmm, I wonder if her boobs are her own without hormones that would end the controversy? I'd say to leave it alone and let her be.

Scarlet said...

She knows what she is. No one should tell her she's not what she feels she is.

we're doomed said...

This is a hard issue to solve. There are no easy answers. What might be fair to this individual and their situation. Might not work with the next person with this issue. Is Sarah a better player because of the male influence? Or just a very good female tennis player? For the record, the Venus sisters could beat me and most men I know in tennis. Is a DNA test the fair way to decide this issue? I think the fair answer to this dilemma won't turn out to be a "will fit all sizes" solution.

Akelamalu said...

If she feels like a girl then she is, it's what's in the mind that counts not what's down below!

Fu Manchu Dad said...

I think, more than anything, that this points to the fact that too many people get up in your business. In a fair society, nobody would know that she was born with both, and she'd just compete as whatever she is. Only in the case of a man disguising himself and playing as a woman, (or vice-versa) should it be anybody's business. As long as nobody is trying to pull a fast one, just play the freakin' game.
FMD

Jeanne said...

God gave her options and she's choosing to exercise the female ones. If she were a crappy tennis player, that coach wouldn't care -- he just doesn't want the competition.

Diane said...

ESPECIALLY if she has considered herself to be female for some time now already, i think they need to stfu!

you are what you FEEL.

pe1biv said...

Hm, I just did a quick google search and that came up with a German article in which it says that she has been confirmed as a woman by a gynaecologist.
I would say that should be enough for people to just shut the **** up...

Even though she's obviously an example where it was the binary necessity for the parents, the medical profession and others to decide what she then would have to be.

A few years ago we had an example of a surgeon who decided to castrate a kid born with abiguous genitalia without consent; a kid that now absolutely and unmistakenly shows to be a boy.
This is a surgeon i think should be charged with grievous bodily harm.

Dana said...

I think in competitive athletics, we need some sort of criteria. The rest of the time? No definition necessary.

Biscuit said...

I agree with Dana and Isabella. These are TWO completely separate issues. I see a whole lot of people missing the entire point here because they are so eager to jump to this girl's defense. No one wants to be the bad guy and admit that there is a valid point.

There is division in competitive sports for a reason, and it's not because someone has their panties in a wad over what's in your panties. It's fairness regarding the limits that *can* be created by the extreme difference in muscle mass. Outside of the competitive sports arena, it definitely shouldn't matter to anyone how she defines herself, but it becomes a sticky wicket in regards to competition. There ISN'T an easy answer.

Mike Golch said...

A person shpould be allowed to live the life they choose not some narrow minded rules.

A. said...

If she considers herself a girl, so will I. I very much doubt that anyone would change genders for the *sole* reason to win some sports trophy.

Related, this is getting to be an issue at women's colleges. Smith dropped gendered language, which many found distressing: it *is* a women's college, after all. At my own undergrad, we had several FTM students. A few transferred because (1) a man doesn't belong at a women's college and (2) a man doesn't need a degree from a women's college on his resume. The others remained, not without a lot of controversy.

Allison

Palm Springs Savant said...

I love controversial topics! I'm in the camp of allowing the person to determine which way to present themself, particularly in this case where there are both sets of equipment!

ProfessionalReader said...

People shouldn't be able to "define" her. She should be able to define herself. If she says she is a girl, then let her be a girl. I agree with Jeanne. The coach is concerned beacause she can play so well.. if she couldn't, no one would care. She's good at tennis, she enjoys tennis, just leave her the hell alone and let her play tennis.

CRUSTYBEEF said...

I agree. She was born this way and for them to rant about this only shows poor sportsmenship and jealousy..I'm sure if she had signed with them, there'd be not an issue. Very discriminatory.

All they need to do is ask her one question: When out in public do which washroom do you go into?

ehh...bad question..I just remembered the many times I have strolled into a mens room while out drinking with my friends back in my 20's...so scratch that.

literally?

Happy Sunday

Southern Sage said...

Well you have to have some way to classify them. So whatever they decide should be held to. I mean I have no clue about how to go about that but outside of competition it doesn't matter but if the criteria is whatever he/she feels like that would surely be unfair. Mike Jordan might feel like a girl and the WNBA would never be the same.

Jen said...

Biscuit, Dana & Isabella Snow summed up what I wanted to say, so I won't be redundant.

Cheryl said...

Great food for thought. I loved reading all the well thought out comments.

Scandalous Housewife said...

The chick on the right, correct? She so looks girl to me. In fact, Venus Williams could beat her ass and mine at the same time, if not at tennis, just in general.

Holy Crappers said...

I find this topic very interesting. I have watched a few documentaries on this subject and am fascinated. One particular show focused on if it is "Nature" or "Nurture" that defines us. MOst of these cases tend to go female.

Gene Bach said...

I can understand the dilemma when it comes to the sports arena. She sure looks like a girl to me though. Does her genetic makeup help her play better? Maybe. My male genetic makeup hasn't helped me play tennis any better than a second grader though.

Bina said...

She looks like a girl to me. Face, hair, body. She shouldn't be penalized just for having a penis.

I say let her play with the girls!

SkylersDad said...

Everyone else has made very good points, and far more eloquently that I could. But may I just add that if I had both genitalia, I would never, ever leave my own room? ;^)

newbo said...

I'm usually a strong beliver in biology and science, but things have happened in my life, like falling in love with a girl for the first time, that it just seems naive to assume our biology determines who we are. If she feels like a woman, let her be a woman because it probably means she is one!

Rachel Cotterill said...

She certainly looks like a girl!

Gender divisions in sports are so strange - especially in something like (for example) darts, where gender really has nothing to do with ability. Ok, so men tend to set faster race times than women - but African men tend to set faster times than Caucasian men, too, and I don't think it would be popular to have racially-segregated races....

Spiky Zora Jones said...

She looks like a girl to me...she even looks like she has less muscles than the William sisters.

I agree if she feels like girl...she is a girl.

Ciao honey.

Vodka Mom said...

If it's the one on the right- looks like a girl. If it's the one on the left, um, well, she doesn't.


xox

Dr Zibbs said...

I wanna see. Then look away.

Cloudia said...

I'm with you:
gender identity
is not changeable
and is crucial to
human happiness & health.
Aloha-

MaryK said...

if you're going to republish part of my article, I deserve a backlink! that's common courtesy

roy/elisabeth dean said...

She's a GIRL!
And a beauty at that!!!
damn
♥,Lilly

nitebyrd said...

That's right, if she feels like a woman then she's a woman. Most people born with ambiguous genitalia tend to have more female hormones and attributes. So I was informed by the urologist I used to work for. He treated several children with this condition, all girls.

Lu' said...

I think he/she can be which ever she/he wants but for the sake of the competition isn't there like a standard lelvel of testerone one could measure?