TGEU call for action/support – “Stop Trans Pathologization 2012″

From Helen G at Bird of Paradox

August 29, 2009

STP-2012 logoTGEU has issued a statement in support of the international campaign by the Trans Depathologization Network for the removal of the Gender Identity Disorder category from the international diagnosis manuals (the DSM and the ICD).

The five demands of the STP-2012 campaign are as follows:

  1. The retirement of GID from the international diagnosis manuals (their next versions DSM-V and ICD-11)
  2. The retirement of sex mention in the official documents
  3. The abolition of the binary normalization treatments to intersex people
  4. Free access to hormonal treatments and surgery (without the psychiatric monitoring)
  5. The fight against transphobia: working for education, social and labour insertion for trans people

In addition, TGEU is calling for these additional actions:

  • The creation of an alternative non-pathologizing category in the ICD 11, recognizing that our gender identities are not mental health disorders while still enabling hormonal and surgical medical assistance to be provided for those trans-people who seek such assistance.
  • The funding of hormonal and surgical medical assistance for trans people by national health insurance.
  • The creation of processes for changing legal name and gender without compulsory treatment or any form of diagnosis.

TGEU also adds:

In 2008 the Steering Committee of TGEU already published a declaration, stating “that the stigmatization, which in part is grounded in the mistaken assumption that gender variance is prima facie a medical disorder, is discriminatory” and demanding that “[a]ny revision of the DSM and the ICD must be carried out with full compliance to the Yogyakarta Principles on the Application of International Human Rights Law in relation to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity” (see Yogyakarta Principle 18 “Protection from Medical Abuse”).

The Steering Committee of TGEU very much welcome and support the position taken by the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, Thomas Hammarberg, in his Issue Paper “Human Rights and Gender Identity”:

“The first aspect in discussing health care for transgender persons is the existence of international and national medical classifications defining transsexuality as a mental disorder… Such classifications may become an obstacle to the full enjoyment of human rights by transgender people, especially when they are applied in a way to restrict the legal capacity or choice for medical treatment… Alternative classifications should be explored in close consultation with transgender persons and their organisations. From a human rights and health care perspective no mental disorder needs to be diagnosed in order to give access to treatment for a condition in need of medical care.”

Campaign Background:

The campaign “Stop Trans Pathologization: Goal 2012″ of the Trans Depathologization Network aims at initiating and monitoring actions directed against the “Gender Identity Disorder” category in international classifications of diseases, especially focusing.

The revision of the DSM IV will finish in 2012 with the publication of the new DSM V. The Network has intensified its actions, and decided to have coordinated demonstrations and other actions demanding the depathologization of trans identities in as many cities as possible around the globe always in October until the year 2012.

A joint action among French and Spanish trans groups in 2007 was the starting point of the Trans Depathologization Network. Since then they have broadened their scope and have continued organizing demonstrations against trans pathologization in every October. In 2008, already 11 European cities participated in joint actions. This year the set date for demonstrations in cities worldwide is October 17th. To date, more than 80 trans organizations and allies from more than 40 cities in Africa, the Americas, Asia and Europe have confirmed their participation or expressed their support and many more are expected to join in over the next few weeks.

Click here to download a PDF (in English) of the TGEU’s supporting statement

The Two Way Street of Compromise

So far I’ve chastised post-ops for their name calling that goes beyond just TS vs. TG . The name calling has gone beyond TS vs TG to become one of I’m better than other TSs because I’m straight or “classic”. Time for the name calling to stop.

Yet for an issues based coalition to work on specific issues to transcend the inter group fighting perhaps it is time for some of the proponents of Transgender as Umbrella to give up some deeply cherished thinking  too.

One of those ideas is that we are all transgender. What ended the fighting between gay men and lesbians was gay men accepting that many lesbians  felt gay as umbrella was erasing them and their uniqueness.  Gay and Lesbian came about as a way of recognizing there were differences even as there were common political goals.  Transsexual and Transgender represent the same sort of compromise and no they will not satisfy every one particularly those who see their transness as a post-modern rebellion against the confines of some sort of ideological gender binary.

Transgender and pre-op people need to stop telling post-ops their surgery really doesn’t make a difference.  People who will swear to that belief right up until they go under sedation on the operating room table and often retract it as soon as they have healed enough to pee normally, shower and have sex.  SRS does make a difference.

Speaking of SRS.  In exchange for our stopping comments and name calling that does not respect your hard earned right to not be called by pronouns of your assigned at birth gender, how about you losing the right wing Christo-fascist insults regarding our post-SRS sex organs.  It has taken two parties to make this into a war and if you are insulted by “men in dresses” maybe you should ponder regarding our feelings about “inverted penises” and “artificial vaginas”

A lot of the post-modern stuff is pretty dubious.  Some of gender is probably innate.  Those of you who are comfortable with living a gender role not associated with your birth sex may well have as valid a claim to innateness as transsexuals who get SRS have.  But they are probably two separate conditions and not different reactions to the the same condition.  Respect runs both ways.

I am a child of the 1960s.  I didn’t go to Woodstock as I was too busy transitioning in Berkeley that summer and my limited resources were devoted to making that real.  I was part of an Action Faction, the equivalent of today’s Black Blocs.

I have a deep anarchist streak.  Expecting freedom and equal treatment doesn’t require a whole lot of justification particularly in the US and other places with democratic structures.  Freedom is a given even when those who do not want you exercising those freedoms try to intimidate you out of them.  I’m old enough to have been harassed and arrested for violation of rules on gender appropriate clothing.  We didn’t use a whole lot of rationalizations about gender identity to fight those laws.  We used the idea of freedom and not harming anyone.

Some of the arguments about the primacy of gender over sex in defining who is a man or who is a woman have a serious potential to be used against women who work in non-traditional fields and who live non-heteronormative lives.  If it is transphobic to call people on these concerns it is misogynistic to ignore them.  Particularly when the right to not conform is as basic a freedom as free speech.

A transinclusive  ENDA and transinclusive hate crimes laws are aimed at legitimizing the right to not conform to stereotypical gender roles and still have your rights respected.  They protect both transgender people and transsexual people because even those who assimilate easily can be outed should they ever have to press a sexual harassment case.  Companies will hire investigators to probe the life of any litigant and even post-SRS folks are currently unprotected.

As I have said to post-op sisters there are real enemies out there including Porno Pete LaBarbara and the entire religious right.  It would be better by far to stop the inter group horizontal hostility and focus on working for things that benefit our own groups even if the needs of post-SRS people born with transsexualism tend to be different form those who are either transgender or pre-op.

This “Real ID” as well as the continuing pathologizing of both transsexualism and transgenderism by the APA are prime examples of issues that oppress or potentially oppress both our groups.

As a 1960s radical I remember Dr. King being murdered in 1968 and how his murder came almost a year to the day after he started speaking out against the war in Vietnam.  How by that time he had come to see that poor people no matter their race all suffered the same sorts of oppression and should work together on fighting for things that would benefit them all.  Putting aside personal interests to fight for a common goal was also the idea of the IWW, a union for all from the early 20th century.

The powers that be love to see us fight among ourselves.  As long as we do that we are not working to improve our own lives and we are doing the work they would have to do by keeping each other down.  That is the essence of the message Audre Lorde was communicating when she said “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.”  As long as we put so much time and energy into fighting each other we will never manage to get GID out of the DSM or pass ENDA and Hate Crimes Laws.  Will never be able to move on to guaranteed health care and housing issues.

Republican Family Values

I live in Texas, I meet and listen to a lot of Republicans, I am finding the health care debate as well as the debate about economic recovery measures extremely enlightening.

Republican Family Values can be summed up as, “I got mine, screw you!”

Honestly I have never seen a more self centered group of people and I lived in Hollywood, a place many describe as the land of the lotus eaters.

It is a mind set one often finds in the poor white trash set.  One of I may be poorer than dirt with appliances and broken cars in my front yard but at least I am white and therefore better than those blacks across the street.

It is a poverty of spirit that refuses something beneficial to oneself if it might benefit the person one thinks themselves better than but who is in pretty much identical circumstances.

I hear a lot of that among sisters who should know better.

I actually hear sisters who don’t want a trans-inclusive ENDA because it would benefit the undeserving transgenders.  They use the rationale that they are women.  But many are unaware of the fact that if they find themselves in a position of being sexually harassed and file a complaint the companies will hire investigators who will discover your past history and use it to blackmail you out of a legitimate case.  Or that if you do not drop your case you may well find that laws against sexual harassment do not cover you.

Cutting off your own nose to spite your face is what my pro-union working class family used to call it.

A working class way of saying horizontal hostility.

Doing this blog I read a lot of news feeds from which I occasionally select particular items or stories. One aspect of this is awareness that both WBTs and transgender people get the Jerry Springer treatment when much of anything happens to us.  And yeah that blows.

Except for one thing when I step back and watch some of the goings on between the transgender identified and the “I am a real woman, how dare you remind me I had an operation set” it is pretty much like watching the Jerry Springer Show.

It helps prevent any of us getting anything that might just make our lives better and with the rates of transsexual and transgender unemployment in even liberal cities like San Francisco that one pretty much sucks.

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“Classic Transsexual”

I’ve been seeing this one getting a lot of air play lately and I wondered what it was code for and what particular values it embraced.

See I know what a classic guitar is.  It is one with nylon strings, 12 frets and a slotted machine head whereas my Martin has steel strings, 14 frets and a non-slotted machine head.

I know what classic cars are and if “classic transsexual”  meant someone more than 25 years post-op I wouldn’t find it problematic.

But that would preclude some of the nasty twits using it.  One in particular from San Francisco who likes writing nasty crap about me.

I noticed that some of the people using it had a seriously homophobic element to their writings.

They also displayed a propensity for obfuscation when asked for a definition. Not a good move especially in the invoking of Dr B. to some one who had him write a letter to Dr. Laub as part of her surgery recommendation.

Embracing “Classic Transsexual” is sort like embracing autogynephilia. Indeed Bailey uses it as a synonym for androphilic or homosexual transsexual. I was sort of amused to discover this one because the other couple of people I banned were self identified autogynephilics. Neither set particularly strike me as folks I would want to hang out with.

Language can be a tricky thing and it is all to easy to slip into oppressive modes of usage out of shear laziness.

I used to use primary and secondary a lot. I used them in a non prejudicial way as short hand to describe a couple of different demographic groups and because I thought them less prejudicial than the Bailey/Blanchardisms. Then I reread Stoller’s Sex and Gender and discovered the baggage those terms carried.

So now I use young emerger and middle age emerger.  A few more letters to delineate the same basic demographic sets but with less baggage.

Words have meaning, words have weight and carry concepts some more biased than others.  Anyone of any group that has had their life at one point or other affected by a trans-prefixed word has to dance on the knife edge of words and their meaning for those words can cut both ways.  It is difficult to to embrace one side of the BBZL coin without embracing the entire pile of bigoted BS.

This isn’t the first time I’ve cast a jaundiced eye on horizontal hostility and I doubt it will be the last.

Real US unemployment rate at 16 pct: Fed official

From Yahoo News

Wed Aug 26, 2:24 pm ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The real US unemployment rate is 16 percent if persons who have dropped out of the labor pool and those working less than they would like are counted, a Federal Reserve official said Wednesday.

“If one considers the people who would like a job but have stopped looking — so-called discouraged workers — and those who are working fewer hours than they want, the unemployment rate would move from the official 9.4 percent to 16 percent, said Atlanta Fed chief Dennis Lockhart.

He underscored that he was expressing his own views, which did “do not necessarily reflect those of my colleagues on the Federal Open Market Committee,” the policy-setting body of the central bank.

Lockhart pointed out in a speech to a chamber of commerce in Chattanooga, Tennessee that those two categories of people are not taken into account in the Labor Department’s monthly report on the unemployment rate. The official July jobless rate was 9.4 percent.

Lockhart, who heads the Atlanta, Georgia, division of the Fed, is the first central bank official to acknowledge the depth of unemployment amid the worst US recession since the Great Depression.

Lockhart said the US economy was improving but “still fragile,” and the beginning stages of a sluggish recovery were underway.

“My forecast for a slow recovery implies a protracted period of high unemployment,” he said, adding that it would be difficult to stimulate jobs through additional public spending.

“Further fiscal stimulus has been mentioned, but the full effects of the first stimulus package are not yet clear, and the concern over adding to the federal deficit and the resulting national debt is warranted,” he said.

President Barack Obama’s administration has resisted calls for more public spending, arguing that the 787-billion-dollar stimulus passed in February needs time to work its way through the economy.

Lockhart noted that construction and manufacturing had been particularly hard hit in the recession that began in December 2007 and predicted some jobs were gone for good.

Prior to the recession, he said, construction and manufacturing combined accounted for slightly more than 15 percent of employment. But during the recession, their job losses made up more than 40 percent of all US job losses.

“In my view, it is unlikely that we will see a return of jobs lost in certain sectors, such as manufacturing,” he said.

“In a similar vein, the recession has been so deep in construction that a reallocation of workers is likely to happen — even if not permanent.”

Payroll employment has fallen by 6.7 million since the recession began.

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Health Reform Could Help ERA Ratification

From Women’s e-News

Run Date: 08/26/09
By Laura Callow
WeNews commentator Women’s Equality Day today commemorates U.S. women’s suffrage. It also marks the date the ERA was proposed in 1923. Laura Callow’s account of suffrage and ERA’s “invisible enemies” includes a look at today’s insurance lobby.

(WOMENSENEWS)–Today, August 26, women across the country will be celebrating Women’s Equality Day, the 89th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote.

It was a hard-won victory that took 72 years to achieve, so women everywhere should do their best to honor it.

This is also the 86th anniversary of the introduction of the proposed Equal Rights Amendment in 1923 by suffragist Alice Paul, who knew that suffrage ended only one of many forms of discrimination that women face.

The ERA was introduced into every Congress until it was finally approved in 1972 and sent to the states for ratification. However, Congress attached a seven year time-limit; one-seventh of the time it took to get it approved by Congress.

Opponents said this would keep the amendment “contemporaneous,” a confusing reference that has confounded the status of the ERA ever since. When the ratification process stalled at 35 states, Congress granted another three years and three months extending the time to June 1982. When that failed it appeared that ERA proponents would have to start-over.

But then came a rescue line, in 1992, when Congress approved the ratification of the Madison Amendment, first proposed in 1789, it was ratified by six states by 1800 and then lay dormant for almost 200 years before it was ratified.

Why Not the ERA?

ERA proponents asked, if an amendment like that–requiring Congress to stand for election before receiving a pay raise–could take so long, why can’t the ERA have more time?

Then with the backing of legal counsel, they decided the time limit on ERA ratification could be ignored for the following three reasons:

  1. The Constitution does not mention time limits for amendments.
  2. The ERA’s time limit is in the proposing clause ? not in the body of the amendment.
  3. Congress has already extended the time limit.

With this opinion, we embarked on a three-state strategy working for ratification in various unratified states.

Currently ratification efforts of varying degrees are ongoing in eight of 15 of those states.

Meanwhile a Start-over ERA has been reintroduced into every Congress since 1982 — most recently on July 21 of this year.

It’s such a long hard slog, we have to ask ourselves why.

Economic Historic

One answer: Powerful economic opposition, from the liquor industry prior to Prohibition to the current-day health insurance industry that fears losing its legal right to charge women higher premiums based solely on their gender.

The liquor lobby opposition began because many suffragists were also prohibitionists (social reformers who hated seeing families become impoverished by alcoholism).

The liquor industry at that time–fearing that enfranchised women would vote for prohibition–formed an anti-suffrage lobby that represented and was paid for by a levy on the brewers of beer, distillers of whiskey, and dealers who sold alcoholic beverages.

They formed alliances with manufacturing and railroad interests, each forming “mutual defense” alliances on special legislative problems. This was the early days, in other words, of what we now know as the big special-interest lobbies.

Carrie Chapman Catt, president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, claimed that combinations of these interests worked with the Republican Party in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania; with the Democratic Party in Texas, Oklahoma and Nebraska; and with both parties in Illinois, Missouri, Iowa and New York.

‘Invisible Enemy’

Chapman Catt referred to the opposition as the invisible enemy3.

Today, many in the ERA push see another invisible enemy in today’s heath insurance industry, which can still legally discriminate against women by charging us higher rates. (See yesterday’s article on this in Women’s eNews.)

At a hearing held by Senator John Kerry, representatives of the insurance industry promised to stop using gender as a basis for setting rates, but backtracked the following week.

However, most versions of Health Insurance reform–if not all–currently contain requirements to end this form of discrimination.

If this reform can be obtained, it will remove a significant source of anti-ERA funding. And this bodes well for the ERA.

Laura Callow has been advocating for women’s rights since 1969. She continues to work for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment because she firmly believes that sex discrimination should be just as unconstitutional as discrimination on account of race, religion or national origin.

Celebrating Women’s Equality Day

In the United States, today (August 26) is Women’s Equality Day, a celebration of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution which guaranteed women  the right  to vote.

It is a mere 89 years since the ratification of that right to vote so it seems somewhat negative to point out at the time Emma Goldman dismissed the suffrage movement by saying the equivalent of, “If voting actually changed anything they would make it illegal.”

The march to equality is never finished.  It is like many things an ongoing struggle to erase many millennia of systematic oppression.  The struggle for women’s equality shares much in common with struggles against racism and classism as well as the struggle against anti-LGBT/T bigotry.

The struggle for women’s equality is a struggle against misogyny and male supremacy.  It is a struggle against institutions such as religion that serve mainly to prevent people from seeking justice within this life span.

It is a struggle against Corporate Capitalism that reduces women to demographics of consumer units to be marketed to and targeted as buyers of specialized and often times exploitatively over priced items.

It is a struggle against the Corporate marketing industry that sells us insecurity and creates fears by telling us to worry about things we had never thought to worry about.  This same marketing demands a rigid division of gender roles telling men they are superior because they will go out and indiscriminately murder the men, women and children of another nation in the name of patriotism but in actuality because these murders called war are in the interests of the rich owners of the corporations.

The struggle for equality is a struggle for equal liberation not for equal oppression or the ability to join the rich boys at the top of the ruling elites in the oppression of the people of the lower classes be they women or men.

Emma Goldman was right getting the vote did not solve much of anything, it merely marked a milestone in the struggle for liberation from the forces of oppression.

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HBS? Count me out.

Over the past few years it has become fashionable on the part of  some people to advocate for the replacing of the term transsexualism with the term HBS for Harry Benjamin Syndrome.

I’m not one of those people.

When the proposal was first floated by some one from Spain it was put forth as Benjamin Syndrome.  Given my working class earthiness and anarcha-feminist streak I responded, “Bullshit!”.  They went huh.  I then pointed out that Benjamin Syndrome produced the acronym BS which in common American slang meant bullshit.

Now the con artist floating this one pled that in Spanish it was Sindrome Benjamin.  But I still wasn’t buying.

It then morphed in to Harry Benjamin Syndrome or HBS and I remained stoically unimpressed.

For a multitude of reasons.

Back when I worked with the NTCU, Officer Elliott Blackstone of the SFPD Community Relations Department was supposedly in charge of what we were doing in a weird form of in loco parentus.  I found it far more grating than others who occupied the position with the office.  My feeling was that we were adults and  didn’t need a father figure benevolent or otherwise watching over us.

I used to cringe when he called us his girls.  It was all I could do to keep from going Valerie Solanis on people who called us Elliott’s girls.  I wasn’t Elliott’s possession.  I found the entire idea infantilizing.

I was really impressed with many of the sisters I knew back then.  We managed to dig up enough information to figure out that we were transsexual and then find a mode of treatment we often taught to the doctors who helped us get hormones.

I was actually one of Dr. Benjamin’s patients and found him to be a pleasant enough old man.  But I wouldn’t call myself one of Harry’s girls. I mean he said all the right things that I would get used to doctors saying, “Like you are one of the most perfect cases of transsexualism I have ever seen. and I’m sure that with you there is something physical.

So why, if I liked him and he created the initial treatment protocols wouldn’t I want to use HBS instead of transsexual.

Habit, I suppose is one reason but there is another one.  I tend to seriously dislike the claque that has embraced it.  Many of them seem to be thoroughly unlikeable people who act as though self affirmation of worth requires the putting down of others.

I honestly never saw transsexualism as a contest.  Although class differences mean that those with the money have access to more and better surgeries.  Sometime when I listen to the list of all the surgeries I have to wonder about the quest for the Mercedes Benz of pussies styled and shaped as though with Photoshop.  Now I know that women born female get these customized pussy jobs too but still it seems a tad obsessive even considering I too had a labiaplasty way back when.

The whole game of I am more woman than you is pretty tiresome and evolving in a direction that has started sounding actually disturbed.

Way back when in the late 1960s and early 70s we called the surgery a “sex change operation” and used that in a very straight forward way as a dividing point between those who were queens (transgenders) and those who were transsexual.  The operation made you real.

Of course we saw it as the final step when we were pre-op and it is only in retrospect that some of us see it as a starting point.

Now there are all these word games that have replaced what was a pretty straight forward descriptive metaphor, “I feel like a woman trapped in a male body.”

Instead of producing clarity all the psychobabble has produced confusion and dishonesty.  From sex change operation or sex reassignment surgery we have gone to GRS which stands for about a half dozen different things including gender reassignment surgery and genital reconstruction surgery.  WTF.  Who are you trying to kid?

Part of the reason middle class and older transsexuals first embraced the term transgender had almost nothing to do with any sort of umbrella.  Back in the 1970s and 1980s many queens in the sex industry used transsexual in their ads and promoting  “trannie porn”.  Heaven forbid we be associated with lumpen trannie sex workers.

Sometimes the classism is so in your face and about as subtle as a note tied to a brick through your front window that you don’t need a Marxist education to see it.   I’ll toss in a streak of racism too since it contributes to people being so far down the economic ladder that SRS  will never be obtainable much less the designer pussy version.

Now I can understand not wanting to be a transsexual.  Hell I had an operation to get past being transsexual.  I’m one of the lucky ones.  I’m the one everyone assumes is the doctor at the group meeting or a lesbian friend of someone.

But word games and status games are not growth.

It doesn’t matter whether what we have is called transsexualism or HBS.  Acceptance is personal and not a product of denial or of putting others down.

Becoming real is in an existential sense a process of being true to yourself not running a game on others.

I don’t need to call transsexualism something else, especially when I dealt with it transsexualism was an accurately descriptive term.  Changing the name won’t make the bigots like us any better.

I looked like a girl before I ever started hormones so I may well have not processed testosterone very well but I don’t feel a need to obsess on all sorts of different forms of intersex conditions to stake my claim on realness because realness is a way of life and not a genetic condition.

So I’ll stick with transsexualism and continue to use WBT as short hand for a woman born with transsexualism.

Scotland – NHS in Scotland spent £1.5m on sex changes… [2009-08-24 The Herald]

From Andrea B.

August 24 2009

NHS in Scotland spent £1.5m on sex changes

DOCTORS in Scotland have spent more than £1.5m over the past five years referring transsexuals for sex-change operations on the NHS.

More than 100 patients have undergone “gender reassignment surgery” at private clinics and hospitals in England because Scotland lacks the specialist facilities needed to carry out the operations.

A landmark ruling in 1998 by the Court of Appeal in England which recognised gender reassignment therapy as a necessary medical treatment that should be available on the NHS has meant health boards across the UK are required to offer transsexuals hormone treatment and surgery.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, responding to a request under Freedom of Information laws, revealed it spent £506,000 on surgery for nine women and 22 men.

NHS Lothian spent £264,000 on surgery for 12 patients and NHS Ayrshire and Arran paid £226,000 for operations on 20 patients.

The vast majority of the operations were carried out at private clinics, including in London’s Harley Street, though some NHS hospitals in England were also used.

Margaret Watt, chairwoman of the Scotland Patients’ Association said: “The NHS should be looking at making this available in Scotland.”

There are an estimated 5000 transsexuals in the UK.

A spokeswoman for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said: “The NHS carries out certain gender realignment procedures if it is clinically considered to be appropriate and if the patient fulfils certain clinical criteria.”

A Scottish government spokeswoman said: “Where the clinical expertise for these procedures does not exist in Scotland, patients are referred for treatment in England. NHS treatments for Scottish patients which take place in England are paid for by a fund pooled from the 14 NHS boards.”

© 2009 Newsquest (Herald & Times) Limited.

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Women’s Health Is Universal Health Care

Cecile Richards

President of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America

Posted: August 18, 2009 03:54 PM
From Huffington Post

So yesterday an article by Dan Gilgoff appeared in the U.S. News World Report titled “Bishops Demand Universal Healthcare Without Abortion.” Does anyone else see the irony in the U.S. bishops wanting to define universal health care as covering everything except for what they don’t support? Under this theory, I suppose women are supposed to wait to see just exactly how the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops comes down on a variety of health care needs to understand what in fact will be considered universal. Since when does universal health care mean denying comprehensive reproductive health care supported by the majority of Americans?

Under a “God & Country” header, Mr. Gilgoff’s article reports on the ongoing demands by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to eliminate the legally protected right to abortion from the American health care system, but doesn’t bother to mention all the other positions of the U.S. Conference: the bishops agree with Pope Benedict that condoms can worsen the AIDS pandemic in Africa; that contraception should not be covered under most health plans and that it is not basic health care; and argue that emergency contraception will not reduce either the need for abortion or unintended pregnancy. Seems that, if the U.S. Conference had its way, the national health care system would make American women second-class citizens and deny them access to benefits they currently have.

The danger, of course, is not simply that the bishops are pushing to erode decades of legal access to contraception and abortion in America. Their hard-line opposition to women’s rights also endangers millions of women around the globe — where women also need universal health care access. The effort to criminalize access to safe abortion endangers most women in the developing world — the very women that you would think the bishops would be concerned about. Each year, an estimated 19 million women — primarily in Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean — resort to unsafe abortions. Globally, an estimated 68,000 women die each year as a consequence, and more than five million each year suffer temporary or permanent disability — including the inability to have a future healthy pregnancy.

The root cause of unsafe abortion is unintended pregnancy, a result of the lack of affordable and accessible contraception for women. The correlation between higher contraceptive use and lower maternal mortality is well established.

We have an opportunity this year to fundamentally address serious health care issues for women and young people in America, and we stand ready to partner with President Obama and Congress to find solutions to our most pressing health care issues. The United States continues to have some of the highest rates of unintended and teen pregnancy among the world’s most developed countries, and now epidemic rates of sexually transmitted infections among our teens. If we did our job right in expanding access to contraception, we’d see a lower abortion rate in America, just like in most other developed nations.

I’d welcome the bishops’ commitment to focus on these “universal”‘ problems, rather than continue to fight to diminish a woman’s right to make personal decisions that should be kept between her and her doctor.

We call upon Congress and the White House to continue to stand firmly on the side of women in health care reform. Women are needed to pass health care reform — and we are not going backwards and we are not going away.

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Greer shows her transphobic colours

From the via Cara at Feministe

By Laura Woodhouse | 21 August 2009, 08:58

Germaine Greer has written a frankly rather incoherent piece for The Guardian on the Semenya story, which seems to me little more than an excuse for a bit of trans women bashing. She uses the case to ask ‘What makes a woman?’, complaining that:

Nowadays we are all likely to meet people who think they are women, have women’s names, and feminine clothes and lots of eyeshadow, who seem to us to be some kind of ghastly parody, though it isn’t polite to say so. We pretend that all the people passing for female really are. Other delusions may be challenged, but not a man’s delusion that he is female.

How Greer can think that trans women living as men make the decision to transition to living as women based on a penchant for dresses and eye shadow when that transition will most probably involve putting oneself at further risk of harassment, discrimination, violence and even murder – due to both sexism and transphobia – is beyond me. She seems to think that because she’s Germaine Greer, it’s okay for her to call other people ‘ghastly parodies’ and refer to their lived experiences as ‘delusions’. And quite apart from her cruelty and transphobia, to refer to trans women’s appearance as a ‘parody’ of womanhood is to accept that there is a ‘true’ female appearance, which undermines any argument that femininity is a social construct.

Greer does make the salient point that employing the services of a psychologist as part of a sex test is illogical, as sex is a physical characteristic, but she uses this to reinforce the validity of cis women’s gender identity over trans women’s, claiming that ‘We [for which read “real, cis women” – trans women are excluded from Greer’s first person plural] don’t know if we think like women or not. We just think.’ Exactly, that’s what makes us cis: cis women do not experience any dissonance between the way we experience or feel gender in our heads and the sex assigned to us at birth according to our physical characteristics, and that lack of dissonance allows us to claim that gender isn’t something you ‘think’ or ‘feel’ at all. This gives us the privilege of being able to claim that gender doesn’t matter, that we’re above gender, all the while ignoring the experiences of trans people who have to deal with this dissonance, in a cissexist* and transphobic society no less.

Greer also enters into the waters of straight-out sexism in the piece, claiming that ‘People who don’t ovulate or menstruate will probably always physically outperform people who do’. While this may be true for human beings at the very peak of their physical abilities, such as top professional athletes, the vast majority of non-athlete men would clearly be outstripped by the women competing in the World Athletics Championships this week. And as Joshua Goldstein points out, the performance of individuals who work hard on their physical fitness does not bear out the assertion that men physically outperform women either:

[In the 1997 NY Marathon], although the median woman ran 11 percent slower than the median man, the great majority of men finish well behind the fastest women, and the great majority of women finish well ahead of the slowest men.

Germaine Greer has written a lot of intelligent, genuinely radical and helpful work, but that does not give her a pass to perpetuate hateful stereotypes of trans women, reinforce cissexist values and deny trans people’s identities and experiences, and I think it’s important that we counteract this rubbish whenever she’s given a platform – as a feminist – to spout it. She doesn’t speak for this feminist.

*Julia Serano defines cissexism as The belief that transsexual genders are less legitimate than, and mere imitations of, cissexual genders.

Woman who posed as man to become judo champ finally gets gold – 50 years after being stripped of it

(For all the BS about the runner from south Africa….)

BY Jeff Wilkins and Christina Boyle

Saturday, August 22nd 2009, 4:00 AM

Gabel for News

It took 50 years, but she finally got gold.

A Brooklyn judo champ stripped of her first place medal when judges realized she was a woman competing in a contest against men secured her place in the history books Friday.

It was a sweet moment for Rena (Rusty) Kanokogi, who became a pioneer for her sport – and a champion for equal rights – after her 1959 victory turned sour because she was the wrong gender.

“[The medal] should have never been taken away from me,” the 74-year-old said.

“But we’re righting a wrong, that’s what counts.”

Kanokogi is now frail, battling cancer, and walks with a cane. But she vividly recalls the moment she took on her opponent in the New York State YMCA judo championships.

She was an alternate, and had to step in when a male team member was injured.

Although women were not explicity barred from the YMCA contests, no female had ever tried to take part. Because her hair was as short as a boy’s and she had an athletic build and tape around her breasts, Kanokogi’s gender wasn’t questioned until she won her fight – and her team won the contest.

She was pulled aside and forced to admit she was a woman or else her teammates would have been stripped of the title.

“It was very demeaning, painful,” she said.

“It was a horrible feeling – like I did something wrong by being a woman.”

The event changed Kanokogi’s life.

She later mortgaged her home to fund the first female judo world championships in 1980 and almost single-handedly got women’s judo into the 1988 Olympics after threatening to sue the International Olympic Committee.

The New York State YMCA presented Kanokogi with a gold medal Friday to honor her lifetime’s work.

“She was like a mother to me,” said 1983 Pan Am Games judo gold medalist Heidi Bauersachs-Trstensky, 55, who was trained by Kanokogi.

“She’s the only one who pulled for us.”

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Stop the Humiliating ‘Sex-Testing’ of Champion Runner Caster Semenya

From Alternet

By Dave Zirin and Sherry Wolf, The Nation
Posted on August 22, 2009, Printed on August 22, 2009

World-class South African athlete Caster Semenya, age 18, won the 800 meters in the International Association of Athletics Federations World Championships on August 19. But her victory was all the more remarkable in that she was forced to run amid a controversy that reveals the twisted way international track and field views gender.

The sports world has been buzzing for some time over the rumor that Semenya may be a man, or more specifically, not “entirely female.” According to the newspaper The Age, her “physique and powerful style have sparked speculation in recent months that she may not be entirely female.” From all accounts an arduous process of “gender testing” on Semenya has already begun. The idea that an 18-year-old who has just experienced the greatest athletic victory of her life is being subjecting to this very public humiliation is shameful to say the least.

Her own coach Michael Seme contributed to the disgrace when he said, “We understand that people will ask questions because she looks like a man. It’s a natural reaction and it’s only human to be curious. People probably have the right to ask such questions if they are in doubt. But I can give you the telephone numbers of her roommates in Berlin. They have already seen her naked in the showers and she has nothing to hide.”

The people with something to hide are the powers that be in track and field, as well as in international sport. As long as there have been womens’ sports, the characterization of the best female athletes as “looking like men” or “mannish” has consistently been used to degrade them. When Martina Navratilova dominated women’s tennis and proudly exposed her chiseled biceps years before Hollywood gave its imprimatur to gals with “guns,” players complained that she “must have a chromosome loose somewhere.”

This minefield of sexism and homophobia has long pushed female athletes into magazines like Maxim to prove their “hotness” — and implicitly their heterosexuality. Track and field in particular has always had this preoccupation with gender, particularly when it crosses paths with racism. Fifty years ago, Olympic official Norman Cox proposed that in the case of black women, “the International Olympic Committee should create a special category of competition for them — the unfairly advantaged ‘hermaphrodites.'”

For years, women athletes had to parade naked in front of Olympic officials. This has now given way to more “sophisticated” “gender testing” to determine if athletes like Semenya have what officials still perceive as the ultimate advantage — being a man. Let’s leave aside that being male is not the be-all, end-all of athletic success. A country’s wealth, coaching facilities, nutrition and opportunity determine the creation of a world-class athlete far more than a Y chromosome or a penis ever could.

What these officials still don’t understand, or will not confront, is that gender — that is, how we comport and conceive of ourselves — is a remarkably fluid social construction. Even our physical sex is far more ambiguous and fluid than is often imagined or taught. Medical science has long acknowledged the existence of millions of people whose bodies combine anatomical features that are conventionally associated with either men or women and/or have chromosomal variations from the XX or XY of women or men. Many of these “intersex” individuals, estimated at one birth in every 1,666 in the United States alone, are legally operated on by surgeons who force traditional norms of genitalia on newborn infants. In what some doctors consider a psychosocial emergency, thousands of healthy babies are effectively subject to clitorectomies if a clitoris is “too large” or castrations if a penis is “too small” (evidently penises are never considered “too big”).

The physical reality of intersex people calls into question the fixed notions we are taught to accept about men and women in general, and men and women athletes in sex-segregated sports like track and field in particular. The heretical bodies of intersex people challenge the traditional understanding of gender as a strict male/female phenomenon. While we are never encouraged to conceive of bodies this way, male and female bodies are more similar than they are distinguishable from each other. When training and nutrition are equal, it is increasingly difficult to tell the difference between some of the best-trained male and female Olympic swimmers wearing state-of-the-art one-piece speed suits. Title IX, the 1972 law imposing equal funding for girls’ and boys’ sports in schools, has radically altered not only women’s fitness and emotional well-being, but their bodies as well. Obviously, there are some physical differences between men and women, but it is largely our culture and not biology that gives them their meaning.

In 1986 Spanish hurdler Maria José Martínez-Patiño was stripped of her first-place winnings when discovered to have an XY chromosome, instead of the female’s XX, which shattered her athletic career and upended her personal life. “I lost friends, my fiancé, hope and energy,” said Martínez-Patiño in a 2005 editorial in the journal The Lancet.

Whatever track and field tells us Caster Semenya’s gender is — and as of this writing there is zero evidence she is intersex — it’s time we all break free from the notion that you are either “one or the other.” It’s antiquated, stigmatizing and says far more about those doing the testing than about the athletes tested. The only thing suspicious is the gender and sex bias in professional sports. We should continue to debate the pros and cons of gender segregation in sport. But right here, right now, we must end sex testing and acknowledge the fluidity of gender and sex in sports and beyond.

Dave Zirin is The Nation’s sports editor. He is the author of Welcome to the Terrordome: the Pain Politics and Promise of Sports (Haymarket) and A People’s History of Sports in the United States (The New Press). Sherry Wolf is an independent journalist the author of the new critically praised book Sexuality and Socialism (Haymarket Books). She is currently organizing for the LGBT National Equality March for full civil rights in October.

© 2009 The Nation All rights reserved.
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Coming Into My House to Trash Me

There are a couple of people in the blog world who have taken some serious whacks at trashing me on their blogs.  That is their right as the power of the press is in the control of the owner of the press or in this case blog.

So they are free to engage in ad homenim attacks upon me… On their blogs.

On the other hand I have a low level management job that consumes a fair amount of time and energy and don’t much feel like playing their stupid little games or engaging in a fight with them on my blog.  Therefore I have taken in the welcome mat in so far as they are concerned.

By coincidence they also were not welcome at Women Born Transsexual, the mailing list.

Further…  It is really rude to insult your hostess’ friends.

Perhaps unless otherwise noted if I give a shout out or promote something some one has written on their blog in a positive manner…  Maybe.  Just maybe it might be advisable to consider that the person I’m giving a boost to might be a friend or acquaintence of mine and I might just get a tad pissy if you trash them on my blog.

The Terrible Bargain We Have Regretfully Struck

From Shakesville

This is a really good post on the nature of misogyny and how people try to suck women into taking misogynistic positions themselves.

I’ve been thinking about this one a lot lately particularly in terms of relating to certain people in the TG Activist camp. Why should I allow the fact that certain TG activists piss me off move me into a place where I condemn all TGs when there are other TG activists I find I am often in agreement with.

This has meant exploring the nature of prejudice. I wish I still had a copy of Gordon Alport’s book that I read way back in college.

| posted by Melissa McEwan | Friday, August 14, 2009

Despite feminists’ reputation, and contra my own individual reputation cultivated over five years of public opinion-making, I am not a man-hater.

If I played by misogynists’ rules, specifically the one that dictates it only takes one woman doing one Mean or Duplicitous or Disrespectful or Unlawful or otherwise Bad Thing to justify hatred of all women, I would have plenty of justification for hating men, if I were inclined to do that sort of thing.

Most of my threatening hate mail comes from men. The most unrelentingly trouble-making trolls have always been men. I’ve been cat-called and cow-called from moving vehicles countless times, and subjected to other forms of street harassment, and sexually harassed at work, always by men. I have been sexually assaulted—if one includes rape, attempted rape, unsolicited touching of breasts, buttocks, and/or genitals, nonconsensual frottage on public transportation, and flashing—by dozens of people during my lifetime, some known to me, some strangers, all men.

But I don’t hate men, because I play by different rules. In fact, there are men in this world whom I love quite a lot.

There are also individual men in this world I would say I probably hate, or something close, men who I hold in unfathomable contempt, but it is not because they are men.

Continue reading at:

Please help! ‘Queens at Heart’ Restoration

In the mid 1990s I was engaged in drinking myself to death. I was committing slow suicide out of loneliness and having experienced far too much abuse through out my life.

I had people that cared about me enough to help save me tell me that I was a worth while person. Jacob Hale introduced me to Susan Stryker. She collected an oral history from me and now my name is found in the index of a couple of books. I appear in Susan and Victor Silverman’s movie “Screaming Queens” a film about the Compton’s Cafeteria riot in 1966.

I am working on a book. Our history is important. Our culture is too as it shows how we lived at a time when so many people claim it was impossible for us to live.

I first received this appeal via Facebook

From Andrea James

We are working to raise the final funds needed to restore Queens at Heart, the 1965 color documentary about pre-Stonewall trans women and their lives. This remarkable footage was almost lost forever – no negative exists. Through the Outfest Legacy Project and UCLA, this film is being restored for a screening on September 30.

We need your help! Philanthropist Joanne Herman has given a matching grant to encourage the trans community and our allies to pull together to save this piece of our history.

We hope to raise $2000 in August and the remainder in September. Join me, Lynn Conway, Douglas Ousterhout, Felicity Huffman and other trans people and allies in this important goal!

I also encourage all of you to join me in Los Angeles on September 30 for the premiere screening of the restored print. Details soon, but in the meantime, any size donation will help. Let’s show the world that our community has pride in our history! Please donate whatever you can – every donation gets us closer to our goal!

[Video: <> Future
Restoration Projects]

Donate via PayPal

Donate via Facebook:

Please help spread the word about this important goal!

This is talk, not advice. See Terms of Use for details.

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Calpernia Addams: What I Wish I Had Known About Transition When I Was Younger

Calpernia Addams <> notes in a thoughtful essay full of advice for young people considering a gender transition:

Transition is never perfect, never easy and never finished. But it does get better, it does easier and it does recede into the background as time goes by.

[…] Focus on your dream, visualize yourself as a beautiful, happy woman living in her own place, with her own car and a good job where she is so valued and essential due to her skills that they would have no problem accepting her past if it should ever come to light.

Much more excellent advice at the link below.

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Trans woman sues after being asked for photo of genitals

This is sexual harassment, pure and simple.  Any questions should have ended with the presentation of the physician’s letter.  No normborn is ever reqiured to produce pictures of their genitals as part of the terms of employment with the porn industry being a possible exception.

Assuming this company is not engaged in the production of pornography demanding this woman produce pictures of her genitals is beyond the pale. – UK

Trans woman sues after being asked for photo of genitals

By Staff Writer, • August 18, 2009 – 11:05

A trans woman who claims she was asked by her employer for a photograph of her genitals has filed a lawsuit.

Kate Lynn Blatt, 28, says that Manpower Inc told her she needed to provide photographic proof of her sex to avoid issues with lockers and bathrooms.

Blatt, of Pennsylvania, US, was employed by the staffing firm as a temporary factory worker at Sapa Industrial Extrusions in 2007. She was dismissed by Sapa after a month when it was decided she was not healthy enough to do her job.

Shortly afterwards, she returned to Manpower Inc to get her job back. She alleges she was told by branch manager Irene Kudziela that she needed to provide a letter from her surgeon as proof of her gender reassignment surgery and a photograph of her genitals, which Kudziela allegedly said would iron out any issues over which facilities she should use.

Blatt told told the Philadelphia Gay News that the request was “disgusting” and that she refused to provide the documents and photograph.

She has filed a bias complaint with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission against both Manpower Inc and Sapa, arguing wrongful dismissal due to her gender identity and disability, which she said was gender dysphoria.

“I was trying to work there in a dignified and private manner, but my dignity and privacy were constantly being violated,” she said.

A Manpower Inc spokeswoman told the newspaper she could not comment on the specifics of the case but said: “The biggest thing to remember is that we’re absolutely committed to the safety and security of our workforce, including the transgender members of our workforce. We’re committed to having diversity in our workforce.”

TLDEF Statement on Sentencing in Lateisha Green Trial

NEW YORK, NY – The Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF) today welcomed Judge William Walsh’s sentencing of convicted killer Dwight R. DeLee to the maximum term of 25 years in prison in connection with the shooting death of Lateisha Green. Green, a 22-year-old African American transgender woman was shot and killed by DeLee on Nov. 14, 2008 in Syracuse, NY. On July 17, a 12-member jury found 20-year-old DeLee guilty of manslaughter in the first degree as a hate crime and criminal possession of a weapon. DeLee’s conviction for committing a hate crime is the first involving the death of a transgender person in New York State. It is only the second such conviction in United States history. In addition to the sentence for manslaughter, DeLee was sentenced to a concurrent term of 3 1/2 to 7 years in prison on the weapon possession conviction.

“Today, a measure of justice has been delivered for Lateisha Green and her family with the imposition of the maximum sentence for this crime,” said TLDEF Executive Director and attorney Michael Silverman. “While nothing can make up for the loss Lateisha’s family has suffered, this sentence helps to bring some closure to Lateisha’s family. The sentence sends a clear message that violence targeted at transgender people will be heavily penalized.”

Silverman has been working with the family since Lateisha’s death in November. He was on the ground in Syracuse throughout the trial working closely with Lateisha’s family. TLDEF collaborated with its sister organizations, including the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), the Empire State Pride Agenda and the Rainbow Alliance of Central New York.

“Transgender Americans continue to face a serious risk of violence and discrimination. African American transgender women are at particularly high risk,” added Silverman. “Neither New York State law nor federal law includes gender identity or expression as hate crime categories and that sends a dangerous message that it is acceptable to leave part of our community vulnerable to hateful acts of violence simply because of who they are. We call upon our state and federal lawmakers to ensure adoption of transgender-inclusive legislation that will protect everyone regardless of their gender identity and gender expression.”

Following the sentencing, Lateisha Green’s family released this statement:

Today’s sentencing sends a clear message that violence motivated by anti-transgender bias is unacceptable and wrong. It affects everyone in a community and it has left many hurt and distraught. We can only hope that Teish’s story will prevent any more loss of life simply because someone is different.

It has been a little over nine months since Teish was taken away from us. On November 14, 2008, Dwight DeLee aimed a rifle and shot Teish. All it took was one bullet to pierce her heart. That one bullet ended Teish’s life and all of the possibilities that could have been a part of her future.

That one bullet took away our brave and beloved family member and friend. But it also pierced our hearts and left us all feeling fearful, sad and angry. All of our hopes and dreams that we had for Teish were taken away from us simply because Teish was transgender. One bullet shattered all of our lives.

Every possibility for Teish slipped away when Dwight DeLee shot and killed her. But today’s sentencing by the judge has left us to believe that new possibilities have replaced old ones. A possibility to begin a conversation for reconciliation and understanding in Syracuse. A possibility to pass state and federal laws that would protect everyone from this kind of violence. A possibility to share Teish’s story so that nobody will ever have to know the feeling of losing a child because of that child’s gender identity.

We want to thank everyone who supported our family during this difficult process and helped us to share Teish’s story. No legal proceeding can provide full closure for us. But we know that closure will come into our hearts as we continue to share this story with the world. We can only hope that more conversations about Teish and her life will prevent another bullet from taking another life. Though Teish left us 9 months ago, she has given us all the possibility to work towards a better tomorrow.

Thank you.

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South African teen wins 800 amid gender-test flap

From Yahoo Sports News

By RYAN LUCAS, Associated Press Writer

BERLIN (AP)—Facing questions about her gender, South African teenager Caster Semenya easily won the 800-meter gold medal Wednesday at the world championships.

Her dominating run came on the same day track and field’s ruling body said she was undergoing a gender test because of concerns she does not meet requirements to compete as a woman.

Semenya took the lead at the halfway mark and opened a commanding lead in the last 400 meters to win by a massive 2.45 seconds in a world-leading 1 minute, 55.45 seconds. Defending champion Janeth Jepkosgei was second and Jennifer Meadows of Britain was third in 1:57.93.

After crossing the line, Semenya dusted her shoulders with her hands. Semenya did not speak to reporters after the race or attend a news conference.

About three weeks ago, the international federation asked South African track and field authorities to conduct the verification test. Semenya had burst onto the scene by posting a world-leading time of 1:56.72 at the African junior championships in Maruitius.

Her dramatic improvement in times, muscular build and deep voice sparked speculation about her gender. Ideally, any dispute surrounding an athlete is dealt with before a major competition. But Semenya’s stunning rise from unknown teenage runner to the favorite in the 800 happened almost overnight. That meant the gender test—which takes several weeks—could not be completed in time.

Before the race, IAAF spokesman Nick Davies stressed this is a “medical issue, not an issue of cheating.” He said the “extremely complex” testing has begun. The process requires a physical medical evaluation and includes reports from a gynecologist, endocrinologist, psychologist, internal medicine specialist and gender expert.

South Africa team manager Phiwe Mlangeni-Tsholetsane would not confirm or deny that Semenya was having such a test.

“We entered Caster as a woman and we want to keep it that way,” Mlangeni-Tsholetsane said. “Our conscience is clear in terms of Caster. We have no reservations at all about that.”

Although medals will be awarded for the 800, the race remains under a cloud until the investigation is closed, and Semenya could be stripped of the gold depending on the test results, IAAF general secretary Pierre Weiss said.

“But today there is no proof and the benefit of doubt must always be in favor of the athlete,” Weiss said.

Semenya’s rivals said they tried not to dwell on the issue before the race.

“I’ve heard a lot of speculation, but all I could do was just keep a level head and go about my business,” Meadows said. “If none of it’s true, I feel very sorry for her.”

One thing not in doubt was Semenya’s outstanding run.

“Nobody else in the world can do that sort of time at the moment,” Meadows said. “She obviously took the race by storm.”

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