I’m going to keep this one plain and simple:
There is always someone more oppressed than you!
I’m sure you all have probably heard of the controversy regarding the Gold medal winning South African track star Caster Semenya, who after winning the 800 meter race at the World Championships held in Berlin, Germany, was requested to take a gender test to figure out if she is indeed a female.
The results came back.
In July at the Cornerstone Festival, I had the opportunity to meet (with Tony Jones) an intersex female. She has continued talking to both Tony and I over the last few months, and it has been something that has opened my eyes to a whole new world that I never, ever knew someone to be a part of! Listening to her – to her life, the abuse she has taken, the confusion (emotionally, physically, spiritually, relationally) she has had to deal with (as literal as “Which bathroom do I go in”) and the course of her life because of her outward appearance and genetics, has made me question God more than a few times recently. In my recent memory, I haven’t come across anyone, or any story that has broken my heart more than hers. And you know what amazes me more than anything? She still loves the Lord and still goes to church; even, as she says,
“No one at church understands me or wants to understand me. But I keep going anyway because I love the Lord and I am trying to live as best as I can!”
Tony has recently done a few great posts on ‘The Complexities of Gender’ here. Without wanting to duplicate much on Tony’s words, I want to add a separate thought:
My wife lived in Africa for 3 years – 2 in Niger and 1 in South Africa (where Caster Semenya comes from). As I showed my wife the article stating the results of the genetics test, Brenda had the most horrific look of fear on her face. When I asked why, she said the following:
1. Because of South Africa’s historical racial divides, mixed with the black African’s traditional African culture, having or being anything different is extremely dangerous. It’s already bad enough for woman in general (thanks Oprah for working on that), but because she is a black woman and now can’t have any children of her own, the stigma against her as less-human (even within her own black African culture) is greater than ever.
2. She is not 100% female, and therefore in many cases will be treated as less than females are already treated.
3. It is so sad that this all played out in the world media – in many cases people from her own country believing she has brought shame to herself, her family, their ancestors/village/etc.
None of us can know what she faces from here on out, as it doesn’t look like there can be anything to undo the horrific attention this has brought to her – as she found out for the first time of her genetic make-up with the rest of us. The only thing that might save her is her celebrity status as a world class athlete – but even that might not be enough. Therefore as we all move forward I want to stress to myself and to you as well, we must keep Kingdom lives in perspective to everyone who surround us.