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).
Friday, 11 September 2009
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.