New reports claim that controversial South African runner Caster Semenya does not have a womb or ovaries but does have internal testes.
This according to Australia’s Daily Telegraph, which quotes a source that claims to have seen the results of the tests done on Semenya to assess if she is eligible to compete in women’s athletics events. The testosterone produced by testes could result in increased muscle gain and a deeper voice.
It is believed that Semenya herself was unaware of her condition and had not been informed of the results before the information was reported in the media.
If true, the results mean that she has an intersex condition, often referred to by the layman as ‘hermaphrodite.’ This means that a person’s biological sex is ambiguous. The condition affects, in some form, an estimated 1 in 500 South Africans.
“Caster’s gender is female,” said Robert Hamblin, chairperson of SA Transgender organisation Gender DynamiX. According to Hamblin, sex is what the body dictates and gender is how people express themselves on the continuum between male and female. “Therefore if Semenya feels that her gender is female we have to respect that expression on a social level,” he said.
The organisation said that Semenya’s condition should be seen as a private matter and that the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and Athletics South Africa (ASA) should not withdraw their support, but help her plan her career from here. It further said that the IAAF has very clear regulations on how to deal with Intersex competitors, protecting their privacy in this process being one of their rules.
Gender DynamiX noted that it is not unusual for intersexuality to only be discovered in adulthood, especially in rural areas where access to quality health care is hard to come by.
“This is an opportunity for South Africans and the world to continue to support an outstanding athlete and an individual who has overcome so many obstacles to her success,” insisted Hamblin.
Meanwhile, ASA president Leonard Chuene, slammed the Telegraph for leaking the information.”This is a sinister agenda to destroy that little girl,” Chuene told eNews in response to the latest news.
The IAAF report on the athlete was only meant to be released in November after experts assessed the test results and made a final conclusion. According to the Telegraph, Semenya’s condition is “grave” and she should undergo medical treatment.
“It’s clear that Semenya did not cheat, but that she has a biological condition. The fact that a condition like intersexuality exists, reveals that sexual identity is more diverse than we imagined. Beyond the body, gender expression is about what we wear and how we behave,” said Sally-Jean Shackleton, a Gender DynamiX board member and director of Women’sNet.
Semenya came to international prominence after winning gold in the 800 metres at the recent Berlin World Championships. This was in the wake of news that the IAAF would test her to determine if she was a biological woman.
Noting that South African law acknowledges and respects the concept of gender expression not being a fixed notion, Gender DynamiX called on the media, politicians and the public to respect Semenya’s privacy and the human rights of all South Africans. “We are human first before gender, race, class or creed,” it said.
Commenting on the speculation about her sex and gender, Semenya recently told You magazine: “I see it all as a joke, it doesn’t upset me. God made me the way I am and I accept myself. I am who I am and I’m proud of myself.”