South African Superstar Named and Shamed

18 09 2009

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Caster Semenya, a star runner of South African descent has been publicly outed as being a hermaphrodite, producing three times the testosterone of a normal girl, after testing requested by the IAAF. It has not yet been decided whether she will be completely disqualified and medals retrieved from her from prior achievements. All her life Caster has been battling spite and cruel comments about her manly appearance and stature and at the young ripe age of 18 she ignored the offensive remarks and put it down to her excessively toned figure, necessary for her talent and triumphs in the 800m event. However now the emotional struggle she is facing must be immense as the tests revealed she has no ovaries or female organs but instead male testes which have been releasing testosterone into her system well through her athletic career.

The dispute over her disqualification is a controversial one as Caster and more importantly her South African representatives claim to have no knowledge of her condition but the IAAF and others involved may argue that this physical advantage over her female competitors has been the only justification for her success and that her previous achievements should be dismissed!  The IAAF has hesitations in banning her completely with the South African national assembly sport committee fighting back profusely, accusing the IAAF of sexism and racism and stating that she is an innocent victim. They make the point that as her entry into the competition was approved by the IAAF it is unjust for them to take away the achievements she worked for, based on tests they should have run, when she was accepted to the competition. A source from IAAF say that the South Africans knew there was something different about her from the beginning and should have not submitted her into the global scene without testing and confirmation of her gender.

The foremost issue at hand is her health and her athletic career should be secondary. The world seems to watch, talk and discuss of how unfair the situation is, how it needs to be handled or not handled with little regard to her privacy. There hasn’t been much consideration to her inner feelings on this world wide debate, or of her body’s inner debate on gender. Procedures and operations were already being discussed almost immediately after the news was announced, but interestingly little concern has been offered for her psychological health and well being. Finding out you are of the opposite gender is colossal enough, but when that discovery is amplified on a world stage, no matter what your speed, you’ve got nowhere to run.

 

References:

http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/sport/semenya-has-no-womb-or-ovaries/story-e6frexni-1225771672245

http://wwos.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=860983

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