Saturday, September 19, 2009

Caster Semanya

Update.--Today (9/19) the news are reporting that the South African sports officials did sex/gender test on Ms. Semanya before she left for her latest competition despite telling her that no tests were done and she was cleared to go and compete. But the team doctor recommended against her going and competing, opening the door to more scurtiny. In short, they lied and for what ever reason they haven't said yet. The final results of the last round of tests aren't scheduled to be released for a few weeks.

Original Post.--The full results of the tests are still out on Ms. Semanya, what she is anyway. And there are a lot of voices arguing the range of views and opinions and what the IAAF should do. And there is a lot of misinformation, mostly speculation, on what she is, and yes, almost all probably wrong.

I won't try to determine what or who she, the information is far from complete, accurate or correct. I can only say she appears to be some form of gendervariant or intersexed, but more a combination of the two, so she doesn't fit any clear group, which is what bother me. Putting labels on her or putting her in a box isn't good, because the labels don't fit and the boxes are full of equally divergent and diverse people.

What I can only guess from the reports is that she wasn't born female as we know and expect females to be. Without ovaries and a womb, that kinda removes a lot of guessing on one end (normal female). Having undescended testes adds to the picture, removing her from the other end (normal male).

Having had genital surgery (to be female) and having a more boyish body probably removes having AIS (since they're usually born with a vagina and develop female body shapes). She is likely another form of sex development where her testosterone had some but not a complete effect to develop her into a boy and man, and maybe a combination of AIS and other conditions.

From there only tests will establish what sex and gender she was born and is know. But that really isn't the question, which is what should the IAAF do with her and her records. I would suggest she, and others like her, be treated like male to female transsexual and apply the same rules. That remove any male factors from her body on par with post-transistion transwomen athletes.

As has been noted, she has a higher level of testosterone than normal women (the testes will do that) but her body isn't fully receptive to it so she ends up in between and a combination of female and male. And that's where the IAAF may have to decide, what natural or artifical level is acceptable for female athletes, based on the normal range expected from women born female and post-transistion transwomen (who are within the normal range of females).

I'm sorry this doesn't sound fair to her. But she isn't fair to the competition. They have a legitmate complaint and the IAAF needs to address them and the competitors to put her on the same field. Give her the choice of changing sex and gender under the guideslines for transwomen or changing her sex and gender marker to male and men.

Anyway, that's my opinion as I read the news. I'm sorry for the publicity about her, but she has to understand she walked onto the world stage open to that scurtiny and was caught. She didn't intend it, and likely didn't know, but she was there and has to stand up to it. And she has choices too, but like it or not, it's not as she is now.

The IAAF has to change as does she, both to be fair to the other female athletes. She also has the opportunity to be an ambassador for other similar athletes. So, while she may not like the choices and the future, it's still there and she still has one. That's her choice.

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