Friday, 11 September 2009

Semenya update

I heard these words on the radio this morning driving to work ..."An Australian newspaper has claimed that Semenya is a hermaphrodite - someone who has some or all of the primary sex characteristics of both men and women." I quickly logged on to the BBC website on arrival at my desk and found this.. "Semenya tests as 'inter gender'. This situation is becoming more complicated than one would have hoped for. I read an article a few weeks ago where it was suggested that although some may think that determining if someone is a man or woman would be as simple as looking to see if they have breasts and a vagina or a penis, in reality it is far more complex.

The external genitalia of a person can be "ambiguous". For example, the clitoris may be enlarged so that it looks like a small penis or a female's labia may be fused, resembling a scrotum. There are also chromosomal and hormonal variations and conditions.Then there is the condition known as congenital adrenal hyperplasia, a condition in which the body produces more androgen, a type of male hormone. If a girl has it, she will usually have normal internal female reproductive organs, but may not have periods and may have a male appearance. I understand that this together with a number of other conditions are recognised by the IAAF as giving an advantage to the individual, but are accepted nonetheless. There are other conditions, including polycystic ovaries and androgen producing tumours, where a woman can have higher than normal levels of testosterone which are not thought to offer any advantage to athletes. In addition, there is a condition called androgen insensitivity syndrome where someone may have internal and undescended testes - and high levels of testosterone - but look like a woman and have a vagina and a uterus. (No, I'm not an expert. I just happened to read this).

6 comments:

Rox said...

Poor person (for lack of a better word). Some things really should be private and am worried about Semenya.

Anengiyefa said...

Yes Rox, its truly unfortunate for poor Caster. I wouldn't trade places with her for anything. But when you think about it, this sort of thing comes with putting yourself on the world stage. Think of Micahel Jackson and all the bad press that went with being MJ.

And this is especially so when the circumstances are within the context of a competitive event like the World Athletics Championships. Also, I think it would be naive to exclude the operation of racism in all of this..

Naughty feeling said...

When all is said and done, i still sympathise with the trauma that comes with such bad press coverage on a matter i would consider to be very sensitive. While i do understand the necessity for the test, i found it distasteful the manner in which her privacy and human integrity has been subjected to scrutiny. Jus let her be, be she or he be a he-she, or whatever she is, the world has better things to worry about. If they are lost, hunger and climate change wouldnt be a bad place to start off...please.

Anengiyefa said...

NF, well I would agree with you, but this whole palaver only came about because there's a World Championship gold medal in the reckoning. Also we cant ignore issues of national pride at stake, including that of South Africa, Caster's country

ladylyf said...

Poor guy/girl! Bad enough not knowing your own gender, worse having it spread round the world.
Thats the price he/she is paying for a World Championship Gold Medal i guess.
That reminds me - I really have to go check on my own gender now. The way i admire biceps and breasts at the same time on the streets is kinda more than bisexuality now.

Anengiyefa said...

ROFL! Ladylyf don't kill me please...lol, I don't even know which law says that there must be only two genders, lol..

But seriously, the thing is that Caster has been raised as a female and this is what she believes she is. So to throw it into her face so crudely and so publicly that she might not be 100% female after all, is insensitive, crass and grossly irresponsible. In fact it is inhuman, and it violates her right to freedom from inhuman and degrading treatment. In these circumstances I am pleased to hear that the South African authorities are considering instituting a lawsuit against the IAAF.