SEA Games organisers turned down a request to gender-test an Indonesian women’s volleyball player on Wednesday as she faced down boos on the court and defiantly said she was ready to undergo scrutiny.
Organising committee SINGSOC said the Philippines’ plea over Aprilia Manganang, 23, had been rejected after a review of medical documents.
“The Southeast Asian Games Federation medical committee (has) reviewed the documents submitted by the Indonesian volleyball team and… the appeal has since been rejected,” a statement said.
The Philippines risked opening a long and complex process with its request on the eve of the volleyball tournament at the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Singapore.
Manganang has previously faced questions over her gender and despite booing from Filipino fans, she appeared unfazed as Indonesia beat the Philippines 25-22, 25-20, 25-14 in their Pool B opener.
Afterwards she said she had undergone gender examinations “a lot of times”, both in her former career as a sprinter and in volleyball, and wasn’t afraid of being tested again.
“I am ready (for a gender test). I am also not in the wrong — whatever I have is given from above,” Manganang said in Bahasa.
“If I am the one who is in the wrong then I will withdraw, but this is not the case and I am not afraid.”
– ‘It spurred me on’ –
Gender testing is controversial because of the psychological effects on the athlete and because the science of the process is complex.
But Manganang said with a resigned smile: “There has been a lot of times and I am used to it already.
“Firstly, it hurts my personal pride but maybe people (make assumptions based on) my appearance and demeanour. But whatever inspection they want, I will do it.
“Before leaving for Singapore, (I knew) there must be a few countries who will protest but I was already mentally prepared.
“Whatever happens, I am ready because I know the people behind me will always support me.”
Indonesia’s team manager Hanny Sidik Surkatty said the Philippines’ request was “out of line” and based on nothing more than Manganang’s appearance.
“If you ask me, this is out of line, it’s baseless. I can also say to the other team: ‘Six of your players are also transgender, according to my eyes they are transgender,” he said.
Philippines volleyball chief Ricky Palou said he was told the appeal had failed just before the start of Wednesday’s game.
“Yes, we accept the decision,” he said. “There was some questions on the gender so we just wanted to make sure and they finally got in touch and she’s been approved to play.”
Other high-profile cases include South African runner Caster Semenya, who underwent a series of humiliating tests before being cleared to compete.
Indian sprinter Dutee Chand is currently fighting her ban after being diagnosed with hyperandrogenism, which causes high testosterone levels.
Manganang insisted she “wasn’t that affected” by the row, despite boos which rang out when she was involved in crucial moments of the match.
“It actually gave me more spirit (to play),” she said, adding: “It became a motivation for me that I shouldn’t give up.
“I have to keep moving forward because behind me there are a lot of people supporting me. It spurred me on to prove them that I am not in the wrong.” – Agence France-Presse