Indian Athlete’s Gender Identity Crisis

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Success of the 26 year old Pinki
Pramanik, began at the age of 17, sprinting off by winning bronze medals at the
Asian Indoor Athletics Championships, followed by a series of accolades at the
2005 Asian Indoor Games, 2006 Common Wealth Games, 2006 Asian Games, and taking
it all the way through, to winning three gold medals at the 2006 South Asian
Games. However Pramanik’s contribution in the sports track dwindled after 2007
following sports injury, traumatic assault and an accident leaving the athlete
in need of prolonged hospitalisation.

On 14th June 2012,
Pramanik was arrested and remanded under judicial custody of 14 days following
the accusation of the athlete’s live-in partner. Police escorted the accused to
a private nursing home located in North 24 Pargana’s district where medical
reports of sex determination confirmed Pramanik was male. However, the MMS that
recorded the gender determination tests in the medical facility exposing the
athlete completely naked went viral causing humiliation and embarrassment to
the former sprinter. Pramanik will be subjected to further medical tests at
government hospital to confirm the athlete’s gender and court’s consent is
sought to send blood samples for karyotyping or testing of sex chromosomes.

The case of Pinki Pramanik is old
wine in new bottle. The gold medal winner of 2009 World Championships, Caster
Semenya, South African who competed in the 800 meters was a victim of gender
identity crisis. Similar to Semenya, Pramanik could also be a case of
Testicular Feminization Syndrome (TFS) or Complete Androgen Insensitivity
Syndrome (CAIS). In simpler logic, chromosomes are 23 pairs, among which one
pair determines the sex of a person depending on the combination. Sex
chromosome for female is XX and for male is XY in humans. In the case of
Pramanik, the athlete has chances of having chromosomes of a male but the
genitals of a woman. The male hormones soar much higher than that of female
hormones; hence the results of the test might show testosterone and androgen
content in the blood. Chromosomal imbalance could probably make Pramanik feel
like a man while the athlete looks like a woman.

If medical results confirm Pinki Pramanik is
indeed male, as accused by Pramanik’s live-in partner, the athlete will have to
risk losing the medals and face serious consequences of rape charges. On the
flipside the hype of Pinki Pramanik is a repeat in the history of Indian
sports. As much as the public plight of Pramanik is causing much distress, it
also reflects more on the repulsive reaction towards gender identity crisis and
the Indian government’s lax attempts in handling sensitive issues even in the
case of people who have brought accolades to the country.

Source: Medindia

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