Caster Semenya Hermaphrodite? Result Says She Has Internal Testes
A report in an Australian newspaper says that South African sprinter Caster Semenya may be a hermaphrodite, a person with both male and female sexual characteristics.
The Daily Telegraph reports that tests have found that Caster Semenya has no womb or ovaries, but does have internal testes. Track and field officials are recommending that she consider surgery because her condition is a threat to her well-being.
Semenya, 18, has three times the amount of testosterone that a "normal'' female would have. According to a source closely involved with the Semenya examinations IAAF testing, which included various scans, has revealed she has internal testes - the male sexual organs which produce testosterone.
Meanwhile, another report suggests that Semenya won't find out the results of her gender test until November.
The IAAF is considering stripping Semenya of the gold medal she won in the 800m at this summer's World Track and Field championships. They are also considering banning her from international competition. The IAAF is treading cautiously, however, out of fear of angering South African track and field officials.
For the record, the term 'hermaphrodite' is largely considered outdated and in Semenya's case inaccurate. If the report proves to be true, Caster Semenya could best be described as intersex. Research by Dr. Ann Fausto-Sterling suggests that gender is more complex that it may first appear, with many people having a mix of both male and female qualities.
If indeed Semenya is intersex, it is possible that she could continue to compete if the IAAF finds that her condition does not give her a distinct competitive advantage.
If Caster Semenya is allowed to compete as an intersex athlete, she wouldn't be the first.
So the point is that all these reports, regardless of their accuracy, still reveal nothing of the action that may or may not be taken. While it may be suggested that being an intersex individual, or someone who is "not entirely female" is grounds for disqualification, it is not. In Atlanta in 1996, 8 women "failed" the sex verification test because they had a Y-chromosome (strictly speaking, they had the SRY gene on the Y-chromosome). All eight were allowed to compete.