An Australian newspaper, the Sydney Daily Telegraph, is reporting a confidential source leaked the gender test results for South African world champion runner Caster Semenya. According to the paper, the source says Miss Semenya "is a hermaphrodite with no womb or ovaries." Reportedly she has internal, undescended testes, but she still possesses external female genetalia.
The IAAF urges caution when accepting the Australian paper's claims because the IAAF has not released any offical statement, nor have they concluded their investigation; weeks of testing and expert evaluation lay ahead. The IAAF will discuss its findings with Miss Semanya prior to releasing any findings to the public.
Last Week the South African magazine YOU asked Miss Semenya about the uproar over her gender. She replied, "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. I don't want to talk about the tests. I'm not even thinking about them."
It should be noted that modern medicine considers gender to be a continuum with an astonishing array of hormonal and genetic conditions resulting in individuals with ambiguous genetalia and/or apparent gender conflicting with internal anatomy and chromosomal makeup. Normally the sex chromosomes XX denote female and XY denote a male; in some extremely rare circumstances there have been XY females and XX males. Some individuals have, like the Australian paper claims Semenya has, internal anatomy that is at odds with their external anatomy. Some individuals are born with both ovaries and testes internally, though it is almost unheard of for an individual to have both male and female external genitals.
The question becomes, 'what actually determines a person's gender?' Semenya's birth certificate lists her as female, she was raised as a female, and she considers herself to be female. Do her heretofore unknown of testes make her male? Does the perception of many who meet her determine her gender? Is she neither female nor male or both? This is the assertion of some intersex advocates, 'intersex' being the preferred term for individuals formerly called 'hermaphrodites.'
Semenya stands to be stripped of her medals depending upon the decision of the IAAF even though they admit there was no cheating involved in her win. South Africa has lodged a human rights complaint with the United Nations alleging racism and gender discrimination over the flap. What do you think? Should Semenya keep her medal? Should the world be allowed to know what gonads and chromosomes she possesses? Is she really a man or a woman?