Most of us probably remember the controversy surrounding Caster Semenya, the South African athlete. Semenya is a fabulous athlete who is said to have been born intersex, though the specifics of what exactly her "condition" is aren't very clear (I'm not criticizing here. The condition of her gentials and other sex organs hardly need to be a public matter, though they sadly did become one to a certain degree during this controversy). She competes as a woman, though during a championship competition, the question of whether this was fair got raised.
In this article and this article the idea that Semenya had an "unfair advantage" over the other competitors is brought up. In the second article, there is a reference to how some of the other competitors made "scathing remarks" about her body. It is true that Semenya has a very muscular and androgynous build. However, why does this give her an unfair advantage? This claim never seems to be backed up in any article I come across. I have yet to find an article that explains that being intersexed definitely allows Semenya to run faster than non-intersexed women. To me, it seems that this claim is based solely on the fact that Semenya's body is not typically "female" or "feminine." When these claims seem unsubstantiated, the extensive testing of Semenya's sex (which is constantly conflated with gender in most articles) and the controversy surrounding it seems to be a mixed response from sore losers and a general concern with defining clear sex binaries. What is also interesting, is in this article it is hinted at that Semenya was being advised to take medical action concerning her "condition" because it is "potentially deadly." This was the only article I found that suggested any sort of thing and it didn't even explain what this supposed "condition" is, or why it might be deadly. It reminds me of the Fausto-Sterling readings, where she explains that medical urgency surrounds the issue of intersexed bodies, and threats of psychological grief and medical complications serve as a motivator for people to change their bodies (or the bodies of their children who are born intersex) to fit into a sex binary.
What I think would be interesting to consider is what if this had happened the other way around? What if Semenya were running as a man? Would there be such a controversy? Would there be this concern about "unfair advantages," or would the concern take a paternalistic, protective turn, arguing that Semenya would be unfairly disadvantaged? Would anyone have even noticed or cared at all? These are interesting questions to consider, and I would enjoy any thoughts anyone might have.