Friday, September 11, 2009

Runner Reported to Have Internal Male Sex Organs

From washingtonpost.com.
Two Australian newspapers reported Friday that gender tests show [that Caster Semenya,] the world champion athlete, has no ovaries or uterus and internal testes that produce large amounts of testosterone. …

Semenya won the 800-meter race at the world championships in Berlin on Aug. 19 by 2.45 seconds in a world-record 1 minute, 55.45 seconds. Even before that, though, her dramatic improvement in times, muscular build and deep voice had prompted speculation about her gender. …

Some people may have the physical characteristics of both genders, a chromosomal disorder, or simply have ambiguous features. The condition is generally referred to as a sexual development disorder, and sometimes intersexuality. An older term for someone with both male and female organs is hermaphrodite.

Dr. John Park, a pediatric urologist at the University of Michigan, said a likely scenario is a condition called androgen insensitivity syndrome. The person is genetically male but doesn't develop external male genitals and appears to be female, or the person can have both male and female physical characteristics.
So this makes it difficult to decide who should be allowed to compete as a man and who as a women. But in her case, it seems fairly clear that she is more male than female and that competing as a female is not fair to the other competitors.

This also must be very difficult for her. She was raised a girl and apparently likes being a girl. Finding out about herself in such a public way must be very hard on her.

All that said, however, I don't understand the why some people are so insistent that she be allowed to continue to compete as a women. For example, here is a Yale professor.
"She's born a female, raised as a female through puberty. Whatever is found, with the exception of deliberate substance abuse, she's going to have to be allowed to compete as a female," said Dr. Myron Genel, a professor emeritus of pediatrics at Yale University who was part of a special panel of experts the IAAF convened on the subject.

Women like Semenya who are born and raised as females before the onset of puberty "should be allowed to compete in women's events, period, end of discussion," Genel said. He said there's a separate issue for people who change gender after puberty.
Why should she be allowed to compete as a woman? What if a male were raised as a female, etc. Would that qualify him to compete as a female? I don't get it.

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