Monday, August 24, 2009

Sportsman, or sportswoman, in 1936

As I write this, the controversy regarding Caster Semenya continues to rage. The Times points out that a similar controversy erupted in the Berlin Olympics of 1936:

Controversy goes back at least as far as the Berlin Games in 1936, when Helen Stephens, an American, beat her great rival Stella Walsh to win the 100 metres. Stephens was promptly accused of being a man.

When German doctors inspected Stephens, they concluded she was a woman.

So Stephens was cleared of the accusations from Walsh. But the Times continues the story:

In 1980 Walsh...was killed by a stray bullet during an armed robbery in Cleveland, Ohio. An autopsy found that she had male genitalia and both male and female chromosomes.

This story details the issues regarding Stella Walsh (a/k/a Stanislawa Walasiewicz) and others.

Controversy over her gender remains unresolved, although official documents and history record her as female.
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