Monday, December 18, 2006

The hollow and hungry media has ripped apart the dignity of Santhi Soundarajan. She won a silver medal for the 800m run at the Doha Asian games. Soon after headlines ran screaming that she had failed the gender test, hyping and sensationalizing the fact that she lacks female sexual characteristics.

Why does this make front page headline news? Because she is of ambiguous gender? Because she cheated (if she did)? Because the Indian sports council or whatever it is that decides which athletes represent India deliberately hid facts? ……the only thing that seems to be highlighted is that she has failed a gender test ,leaving the rest to everyone’s imagination.

It appears that she studied in a girls school and college. She has lived all her life as a woman. This is possible in certain genetic disorders where the sex gene combinations go haywire eg xxy ,xxyy, x0 etc. Such people may be intersexuals.

I do not dismiss that Santhi knew she was not a woman, she preferred to be a woman due to a combination of genetics, hormones and perhaps some external attributes. If that is so, then we need to rethink our outlook to people with gender ambiguity and find a way in which they can be equal participants in events such as this. Unless it is a clear cut case of cheating, I think no one has the right to strip her of her medal. More importantly no one had any right to strip her of her dignity.

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