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Report claims South African runner is intersex

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  1. I support this person 100 percent. This person a human being and deserved respect and love from everyone. to critics and hate mongerers F–K OFF and leave this person alone. This person is a great runner and deserves a metal!!!!!!!!

    People are entitled to their gender they want or feel!!!!!

    Caster Semenya – I support you 100 percent you are an insporation to all intersex people out there!!!!

    And I am a gay man who is 100 percent man!!!!!

  2. If it is true that Caster Semenya has an intersex condition in which she has undescended testes where her ovaries would be, then she it will probably come as a complete shock to her. She will need educating and probably some counselling to come to terms with it. There are international intersex community groups that she could join for support. It will be interesting to see exactly which intersex condition it is and whether the athletics authorities have excluded people with that condition from participating in women’s sports (some intersex conditions are ‘allowed’).

    It is shocking that, after saying it was wrong to leak the information that Semenya was undergoing tests, the authorities have now leaked the information that she has an intersex condition to Australian journalists two weeks before the results are officially due! Don’t they respect their own rules?

    Lastly, it is really amusing that the BBC keep saying ‘intergender’ instead of the medically accepted term, ‘intersex’. The Intersex community prefer the word intersex because it is accurate. Clearly, Aunty Beeb has difficulty saying the word ‘sex’ before the watershed…and as for ‘intersex’, it sounds like ‘in to sex’! OOoer! Pathetic!

  3. Why are swimmers are allowed to win medals with size 16 feet and larger lung capacity when that’s genetic also!

    The gender/sex spectrum is complex. A few individuals do not fit comfortably into what we think of as typically male or female. For a variety of reasons, one in 100 or so babies is born with some kind of sex differentiation anomaly. This could be, for instance, because the pregnant mother has additional hormones in her system, which she has absorbed from, say, medication or the environment, and which she has passed on to the fetus, or the fetus, itself, may be insensitive to the influence of certain hormones. Occasionally, sex/gender anomalies may be associated with unusual chromosomal patterns, for instance, 46,XY, 47,XXY, 47,XYY, 45,XO, 49,XXXYY, or even a mosaic (more than one chromosome pattern in different tissues of one individual). The possible permutations are numerous.

    It sounds like Caster Semenya is 46,XY and she has female gentaila and undescended (internal) testicles that put he at a high risk of getting cancer.

    Bolt gains a advantage by having longer legs.

    Michael Phelps gains a advantage with his abnormally large feet and twice the lung capacity of a normal human.

    Lance Armstrong has a similar genetic advantage as Michael Phelps lung capacity.

    All three of these athletes are allowed to compete, despite the genetic advantage the have. But then again they are men and can get away with it.

  4. The BBC’s use of intergender (not a real word) is very amusing.

  5. Imagine the entire world speculating about your reproductive organs. It doesn’t get more humiliating than that.

    If this report IS true, then I would question the quality of SA health care system. Shouldn’t a qualified gynecologist find a lack of menstruation in an otherwise perfectly healthy 18-year old girl rather worrisome?! And something that warrants at least… oh, I don’t know… a quick ultrasound perhaps?

  6. Mihangel apYrs 11 Sep 2009, 1:43pm

    I’m not going to get embroiled in the “should she be allowed to compete” argument, but I will say that the lack of confidentiality, lack of duty of care, lack of compassion, and lack of any definitive evidence is abysmal. No matter what, SHE should be told first of any diagnosis by a physician fully trained in the condition and with full, specific counselling skills (or a such a counsellor at the disclosure). Whatever the outcome, this young person is going to need a hell of a lot of help, especially in SA, to get through this with sanity intact. It’s bad enough for those with this “alleged” condition out of the public eye, in this case she’s been humiliated in the face of the world

  7. I don’t think many people will be surprised at that result. I just hope that now Caster Semenya is given support and left alone. I also hope that this news – if it’s correct – will be accepted by everyone and that she won’t be subject to hurtful comments or discrimination.

    Lucius – a whole ‘nother can of worms there…

  8. Lucius you forget Caster Semenya would of been discriminated against in the South African health care system in her early life. She was probably not even born in a hospital as she comes from a rural village.

  9. You can sympathise with Semenya to a certain extent, but in reality, she is obviously unfussed that for many years her menstrual cycle has been erratic or absent due to testosterone. From her own press comments, I doubt that her gender identity is even an issue to her.

    It does question whether or not Semenya has been happily, and silently, aware of the competitive advantage in sport all along.

    If this really is news to Semenya, then I am sure she/he will be offered an awful lot of help from various organisations (and probably refuse it). She believes she is a SA woman, is accepted as such in her much less fussy homeland already, so that will be that…

    It does raise an interesting issue in sport. Goodness knows how they’ll work out where to fit the people with unusual chromosomes. Why leave it at sport? Society has to decide what to do with people who are technically not 100% M or F, and in doing so will no doubt destroy masculine and feminine identities further.

    This world is bizarre. No wonder there’s a record jump in mental health issues.

  10. She is a she Dan and not a she/he. You no doubt carry some kind of genetic mutilation in your DNA as we all do so should we discriminate against you also?

    Its the same genetic diversity that gives us blue eyes, blonde hair (non bottled) and many different skin tones. Without it we would all still be single cell organisms floating around the oceans of the world.

  11. Cobus Fourie 11 Sep 2009, 2:57pm

    I find it horribly uncouth how the Australian press handled the situation, as a South African, my allegiance lies with Caster. I find those media companies (such as in Australia) which use the word “hermaphrodite [sic]” depraved and morally reprehensible, that term is antiquated and is medically incorrect and considered utterly rude.

  12. Abi1975 – your agressive tone is uncalled for. I have referred to Semenya as a ‘she’ consistently out of respect, even though Semenya has testicles and strong genetic mutation which really reduces that label to simply that – a label. Biologically speaking, Semenya isn’t a woman she is a hermaphrodite. Yes, a he-she! Not one or the other, not he or she. She identities as a woman, but she may decide to identify in any way she likes once the full range of options have been presented to her in light of this ‘news’. So, I reserve her right to identify as a man – wouldn’t that be a thing if she did? Abi1975, please don’t attack others with your militant P.C. attitude, take your anger elsewhere.

    With regard to your other ‘comment’:- I am actually discriminated against on a regular basis for simply being a regular male. I carry the weight of people’s prejudice and discrimination against men (even though I am actually gay but don’t adhere to gay stereotypes either). I forgot! It’s seemingly ok for society to generically bash men though, isn’t it? Just watch an episode of Loose Women!

    So, go ahead and discriminate against me if you like, I couldn’t care less because I face it every day. I’m happy to receive it and be proud of who I am. I have a perfectly formed penis, I am a male MAN bloke type person, and I love to identify as ‘he’ and suffer all the trouble that it brings!

    Before you bash someone again for speaking freely, please be mindful that we live in a society which can be horribly overly P.C. – to the point of ‘sleepwalking’ into psychosocial damage.

  13. Are female athletes allowed to take testosterone injections or is that a banned substance? If it is a banned sustance then Semenya’s intersex condition gives her an unfair advantage over the other competitors and she should be stripped of her medals.

    I can’t believe that this story was made public so early though

  14. @Dan
    Oh the poor males they have to give up some of their male privilege though not all of it yet!

    So what do we call people born with a 3rd nipple or people born with a 3rd limb Dan? You look at the whole person Dan not one small part inside her.

    And hermaphrodite has not been used to describe this genetic condition for years its intersexed now. You know we all share 70% of our DNA with frogs and 98% with apes yet we do not call ourselves human/apes/frogs why is that Dan?

    @ Vince
    All women produce some testosterone just as all men produce some oestrogen so everyone should be banned using your logic Vince.

    The Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps gains a unfair advantage with his abnormally large feet (size 16) and has twice the lung capacity of a normal human should he not also be banned Vince?

  15. I fear the vultures of the gutter press are circling, ready to swoop down and pick the flesh off the bones, not a pretty sight.

    So Dan. you think YOU are discriminated against ? (12).
    put a frock on and a bit of lippy and say you’re trans. If you last a weekend and compare I might have more respect for that viewpoint !

  16. What is it with Abi1975, calm down woman! Your bile and spite are spilling out of the screen!

    Surely if you are a hermaphrodite (why do people feel they have to invent a new word every time a new issue comes up?) how can anyone question his / her participation? There is simply no question of someone who is half man competing with women, how can anyone, even the PC brigade with their “newspeak”, argue otherwise. To compare this person with Michael Phelps is ridiculous. I assume Abi works in the public sector.

    Dan is right, he’s the man

    Are you going to argue that the horses who jumped on banned substances at the Olympics be repreived becasue they didn’t know they were drugged up, Abi? But, I suppose, being horses, they are probably tory so should be punished.

    This situation does remind me of the 1988 Olympics when the beautiful and very female Virginnia Leng complained that she had to take a sex test at the Eventing, when equestrian sports are the only ones where men and women compete on equal terms. Sometimes sports law is strange.

  17. Shes a sweet girl. Let her get on with her life.

  18. Julian (16)
    Surely if you are a “poof” (why do “homo’s” feel they have to invent a new word every time a new issue comes up?)
    well julian I just changed a few of YOUR words. Do you like that ? A bit of your own logic ?
    I dont ! then again if it’s only against a minority of a minority and if it doesn’t concern doesn’t matter.
    It matters to an intersex person how they are addressed, also transgendered still get the tranny tag.
    People who like to use such derogotary words only want to show disrespect.
    The Engish language is changing all the time and if a less disrespectful and less offensive alternative trundles along it’s welcome, and the old offensive terms bundled away forever.

  19. I think she –the purportedly intersex runner- must be respected etc. etc. etc. . She –for sure- must be a good runner, etc. etc. etc. .
    But it is just simply not fair for women that –as they are biologically so- have less testosterone and can not compete with equality. Equality means that all will be treated with fair conditions, and not exclude people because they are not “that” special as Semeya seems to be.
    We are speaking about a SPORTING EVENT here, not about she in her quality as human being, not even about her as the recognized woman she is. But she is not any woman –if in fact she has internal testicles- and therefore she has and unfair advantage.
    If we are to dismiss that altogether, just let woman a men compete together. It’s hard to make comparisons, and this one could seem far fetched, but if we make compete blind people to compete in locating by sound where singing bird is, wouldn’t be unfair is one of them is only partially blind and can see light and shadow, therefore being more able to take advantage of it? I’m not saying that women are handicapped, don’t get me wrong.

  20. Simon Murphy 11 Sep 2009, 7:25pm

    Abi – you are not making any sense. Yes we all agree that trans people deserve equality and fair treatment. So does everyone else though – and that includes the women racing against her. Do you seriously think it’s fair that Caster Semenya is allowed to compete against athletes who are not born intersex and who therefore have a biological disadvantage against her

    She may identify as a woman but biologically she is intersex. How is it fair to the other athletes to let Caster Semenya compete against them if they are not allowed to take performance enhancing drugs or hormones that Semenya has thanks solely due to her intersex condition

  21. “God made me the way I am and I accept myself. I am who I am and I’m proud of myself.”

    – Caster Semenya

  22. Pumpkin Pie 11 Sep 2009, 10:42pm

    This world is bizarre. No wonder there’s a record jump in mental health issues.

    Makes no sense. If the world has always been bizarre, why is there only now this supposed jump in mental health issues? Otherwise, what proof do you have that it’s only recently become so bizarre, and where’s your evidence for a record jump in mental health issues?

    Before you bash someone again for speaking freely, please be mindful that we live in a society which can be horribly overly P.C. – to the point of ‘sleepwalking’ into psychosocial damage.

    If our society was as PC as you conspiracy theorists like to make out, there would be gay marriage already and transsexual people would be listed as the correct gender without having to go through sexual reassignment. Tell you what, I’ll start worrying about the gestapo boogeymen after we’ve actually got equality. Something tells me I’m not going to have to worry about it for quite some time.

    I used to use the term “half-caste” as a boy. Being young and dumb, I thought it was some sort of reference to light or something like that, the point being that mixed-race people were half one thing and half the other. When I found out what the term actually meant, and that people found it hurtful, I stopped using it.

    I arrived at this decision while still a child. For an adult to continue using such a term after finding out it’s offensive is appalling. Frankly, I’m embarrassed for you people.

  23. People no longer use the term “hermaphrodite” because it’s inaccurate, not because it’s “un-PC”. The original myth of Hermaphroditus was about the child of Hermes and Aphrodite, who had fully developed male and female genitalia. Science says that the term therefore refers to creatures with full sets of both male and female sex/reproductive organs – worms and snails are referred to as hermaphrodites by scientists. But this isn’t possible for humans and so a different term is used to distinguish between the two.

  24. Monkeychops 12 Sep 2009, 10:54am

    Obviously none of you lot can decide what’s fair given all teh in-fighting. Again, as with many other threads, it’s all about scoring points – who can make themselves look the most knowledgeable, who can win an argument and who is the biggest victim. So how about letting nature decide – make all competitions open to everyone. That’s right – men, women, intersex, hermaphrodites, transsexuals, transgenders, transvestites, people with disabilities…..the whole kaboodle competing against each other in fully open events. That’s real equality, is it not? That way, no-one gets disqualified, no one gets discriminated against and everyone has to rely on their own natural capacities.

    Of course, going on the current standards in competition, the overwhelming majority of winners and medalists will be able-bodied men and wheelchair users – if that were deemed permissable, after all a wheelchair is not a naturally occurring appendage. Otherwise, it will just be able-bodied men who dominate. Who’s going to be the first to shout that this is not fair?

    Aside from the above, one thing is for sure, the handling of this athlete’s situation has been nothing short of appalling. I doubt for a second Semenya would have been aware of the anomalies and the authorities should have handled things with sensitivity and discretion, only publishing the results of the tests once a decision had been made. Instead they have robbed an athlete of their dignity in a most despicable manner!

  25. Brian Burton 12 Sep 2009, 9:17pm

    You always think you can have the last word you slimy slug!

  26. As usual the PC nutters like Abi1975 leap on whenever somebody steps out of line. I have been chastised before for referring to he/she/it regarding peoples gender and sexuality. In the case of a hermaphrodite, what criteria actually defines the gender of that person? I’m actually sure anyone has defined it, (and it certainly isn’t common knowledge), so I wish these people would get off their f_cking high horses over simple semantics and actually discussed the topic, instead of how offended they are.

  27. Pumpkin Pie 13 Sep 2009, 6:03pm

    What’s so nutty or PC about getting offended when somebody uses a nasty slur? I’m pretty sure that’s been the natural response since before “political correctness” even existed. I’m pretty sure entire countries have gone to war over it. And you think THIS century is weird?

    Furthermore, you’re doing it intentionally. It’s already been explained in this very thread that people who are intersexed are not hermaphrodites. Also, it should be blatantly obvious that, as is the case for trans people, the correct gender pronoun to use for intersex people is whichever one they identify as. If you’re not sure, use “they”, or avoid using gender pronouns altogether (unless English isn’t your first language, this is extremely easy to do) – anything is better than being called “it”. Anyone who has spent even a couple of years living as a human should know that being called “it” is offensive.

    Don’t play the innocent card. Being unintentionally offensive is OK, it’s just a mistake. You learn and move on. But you do these things intentionally. You don’t give a crap about anyone else, you don’t want to make any sort of effort to not be a colossal asshole, you don’t want to be inconvenienced by politeness or consideration for others. None of this stuff is “PC”, it’s just common decency, and labelling it as “PC” does not diminish its importance one bit. You are not an oppressed champion of justice and freedom, you’re just a cranky asshole.

  28. Hang on a minute. Transexual people are NOT intersex. They choose to have operations to make them from one gender to another. This girl (I use that term purely as a description), is both sexes, through no choice of her own. She is a biological anomaly. It is true she is not a hermaphrodite in the fact that she does not possess both male and female genitalia, however she is of indeterminate gender, and this can cause a lot of problems simply trying to address her gender in simple terms. Nobody is trying to be callous or insensitive.

    However, if I can really cause Pumpkin to blow a lefty f_ckin blood vessel reading this, I don’t really give a toss what he/it thinks.

  29. Can you not see RobN, by calling an intersexed person ‘it’ your stripping them of their humanity and treating them as a object.

    We as a society used to do the same thing to disabled people by calling them spastics. Christians do the same to gay men calling them fags and sodomites. Striping away the humanity to justify hatred and bigotry.

    In Post No3 I gave a good scientific explanation of intersexed conditions and asked a question nobody has answered.

    Why do we discriminate against the genetic condition of Caster Semenya and not the the genetic conditions of the likes of Lance Armstrong and Michael Phelps.

    And what about another genetic condition where some men develop breasts? Would you call them a he/she/it as well?

    I really feel for what intersexed people go though after birth. Most in the developed world will have a gender selected for them after birth by the surgeons knife with no concern for what gender they are. Its about convenience for the surgeons, what gender is easiest for them to construct. And about saving the parents embarrassment. A inter sexed child should be left to decide for themselves what gender they are however long it takes. Large numbers of intersexed people transitioning latter in life because of the mutilation doctors have performed on them after birth.

    Many doctors mow see transsexualism as an inverted form of a intersexed condition.

  30. Abi1975: I have every sympathy for anyone cursed with this paradox, however, as I have stated many times before, there is no precedent or standard by which we should address these people. No genuine person would wish to offend these them, but at the same time it can be extremely uncomfortable to ‘walk on eggshells’ when trying to refer to that person, particularly if you don’t know how they wish to be perceived. To push the extreme point of this, take the characters in “Little Britain”, where you have a 6’4″ ‘person’ with a large moustache, and equally large breasts stating “I’m a lady!”. Now you may say they have stated their gender, so then you ought to address them as such; however, if you had to introduce them and had not known that fact, what would you do? There are many straight, male cross dressers that have no gay or transexual leanings that might feel quite offended if you called them “a lady”.

    Frankly, this whole thing is a mess, and it’s about time some official body tried to lay down some rules and definitions so that people knew where they stood, instead of red-faces, and the occasional trans throwing a strop and accusing people of transphobia when they simply didn’t know what to say or do.

  31. Mihangel apYrs 14 Sep 2009, 8:54pm


    to try and respond to your question, without intending to offend since the majority of us, me anyway, are uneducated in this subject:

    she can’t claim solely male or female PHYSICALITY, and while she identifies as a women she has elements in her that are ,ale. To draw an inexact comparison, it’s like a trans person identifying as female and running in a women’s race while having male primary and secondary sexual characteristics. Testosterone creates much more pronounce musculature than a female even after training hard can ever manage. So it comes down to what is equitable: putting aside the larger legs and footsize etc, the advantages between male atheletes isn’t so intrinsic, while it is inequitable for a fit man to compete against a fit woman in certain sports.

    Believe me, please, I feel so desperately sorry that she’s in this position, and, if I were able beyond mere words, would support her in whatever choice she makes; but athletics or any competition based on strength and stamina has to be felt to be equal

  32. Pumpkin Pie 15 Sep 2009, 3:01am

    Hang on a minute. Transexual people are NOT intersex. They choose to have operations to make them from one gender to another. This girl (I use that term purely as a description), is both sexes, through no choice of her own. She is a biological anomaly. It is true she is not a hermaphrodite in the fact that she does not possess both male and female genitalia, however she is of indeterminate gender, and this can cause a lot of problems simply trying to address her gender in simple terms. Nobody is trying to be callous or insensitive.

    Transsexuality refers to the mental phenomenon, not body modifications. Transsexuals “chose” to be transsexual about as much as you chose to be gay. Thus, their situation is at least comparable to that of those who are intersexed, which is why I used that example.

    Frankly, this whole thing is a mess, and it’s about time some official body tried to lay down some rules and definitions so that people knew where they stood, instead of red-faces, and the occasional trans throwing a strop and accusing people of transphobia when they simply didn’t know what to say or do.

    We’ve been through this MANY TIMES, including my previous post. Refer to a person by the gender they identify as. If there is ambiguity, hey, just do your best. Not your fault if you made an honest attempt. And anybody who dresses as a woman and then takes offense to being called a “lady” deserves an eye-roll. In Semenya’s case, it is quite obvious which gender pronoun to use, seeing as how she not only dresses and lives (and competes!) as a woman, but also says that she’s a woman.

    You don’t need an “official body” for this. It’s just common sense. What the hell kind of official body would that be, anyway? Gender pronouns are, contrary to popular belief, not a science issue. This would be a job for some sort of etiquette society. I’m pretty sure they’d be happy to have a job that didn’t involve deciding which order utensils go in at posh banquets, but it would ultimately be a big waste of time.

  33. I tried to post some links to intersex support sites yesterday but they did not go up. There are several sites which explain everything, if people just take the trouble to look.

    There is a simple rule about which pronoun to use – ask what the person in question wants.

    In the case of Caster Semenya, it has been suggested she is physically intersex. Yes, this would mean her biology is not 100% female, but that does not mean you should immediately stop calling her ‘she’.

    How does Caster Semenya see herself? As a woman. So call her ‘she’ please!! Simple!

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