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Report: Teen Running Champ a Hermaphrodite

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She reportedly has no womb or ovaries.

Caster Semenya
A test has confirmed that South African teenage running champion Caster Semenya, 18, is a hermaphrodite -- having both male and female organs, according to CBS News and other media outlets.

According to reports, she has no womb or ovaries, and her testosterone levels are more than three times higher than those of a normal female.

Semenya could be stripped of the gold medal she won, and her competitive future is now in limbo.

Do you think her gold medal should be taken away? Comment below.

next: FDA Panel OKs Gardasil Use in Boys
17 comments so far | Post a comment now
chris September 10, 2009, 2:35 PM

I think if her body is design more as a male than female then yes she should loose her medal. It’s no different than the story I read about a male boxer who was going through a sex change and still wanted to box but with women. Sorry but I don’t agree with that.

Autumn Sandeen September 10, 2009, 4:08 PM

Please see the English language FAQ at the Organisation Intersex International with ther prefered use of the term intersex:

“An intersexed person is an individual whose internal and/or external sexual morphology has characteristics not specific to just one of the official sexes, but rather a combination of what is considered “normal” for “female” or “male”. The former terms used were “hermaphrodite”, “pseudo-hermaphrodite”, “androgyne”, etc. There are many different intersex variations. Viewing these variations as a medical illness creates a special medical category which includes an extremely large group of “disorders” which have nothing in common from a medical point of view except that the person is of intermediate sex as established by current norms. Intersex people need health care just as everyone else does but each intersex variation has its specific health needs which will be overlooked when placed in a catch-all umbrella term such as DSD (Disorders of Sex Development) and will make “gender” normalisation the main issue because that is the only factor that all these “disorders” have in common. This is why the term “intersex” is preferable since it includes all the different variations without implying that they have any medical condition in common which they do not. What we have in common is that we are of “intermediate” sex as defined by current norms for male or female.”

birdsfly September 10, 2009, 4:22 PM

I think if she didn’t know and was female all her life then they should not punish her for a genetic fluke.

Kristen September 10, 2009, 6:01 PM

I have a hard time believing she/he didn’t realize something was up. This person is 18yrs old and has no ovaries or a womb which means there are no periods and no breast development, these are cause for concern. Are you telling me the parents didn’t seek medical attention and ask questions about these things, I have a hard time believing that, especially if she/he is in such a competitive sport then she/he has had access to medical care. I do believe the medal should be taken.

Nicole September 10, 2009, 6:54 PM

Kristen, get real. She grew up in Africa, health care is not nearly as common as it is here and certainly not if she wasn’t sick in a tangible way. I doubt very seriously that her parents have ever heard of a hermaphrodite, much less know enough about it to suspect the condition in their daughter and take her to a doctor for extensive (and expensive) testing to find out. As far as periods, it is very common in professional women athletes for them not to menstruate on any regular cycle and, for some of them, not at all. And, have you ever seen a woman with small breasts naturally? I have. I think this is a very delicate situation that will hopefully be handled with grace and dignity by all involved and not cause this girl unnecessary heartache or trauma by crucifying her publicly for a medical condition she was unaware of.

Uly September 10, 2009, 7:07 PM

Sorry but I don’t agree with that.

You don’t agree with WHAT? Biology?

Anonymous September 10, 2009, 10:46 PM

she had no choice what her body grew into-get a life, what would you do if you were in her shoes- not be the best person you could be? you all are idiots, like rush.

Anonymous September 11, 2009, 4:28 AM

This person is more male than female so I think he/she had an unfair advantage over the other female runners. Maybe he/she should keep this medal but from here out, they should make he/she compete with men.

birdsfly September 11, 2009, 7:05 AM

Also she has always been and athlete and sometimes athletes just don’t get their period

TMC September 11, 2009, 8:53 AM

I just read another article that said that the results of the test won’t be released for weeks and that the athlete doesn’t even know the outcome yet. This story was outed as coming from an Australian gossip rag.

Zoe Brain September 11, 2009, 4:33 PM

If the reports are correct, Ms Semanya has PAIS-6. Partial Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome grade 6, where grade 7 is Complete Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome (CAIS). //

What this means is that she’s almost completely immune to testosterone and other androgens. “Almost”, but not quite completely. If she’d had CAIS, she’d be ultra-feminine, more so than standard factory model women. It’s an open secret that most of the supermodels who don’t have children have CAIS, as did Miss Teen USA 1991. //

From the Internation Amateur Atletics Association rules on the subject :

(The crux of the matter is that the athlete should not be enjoying the benefits of natural testosterone predominance normally seen in a male)

6. Conditions that should be allowed:- Androgen insensitivity syndrome (Complete or almost complete - previously called testicular feminization);- Gonadal dysgenesis (gonads should be removed surgically to avoid malignancy);- Turner’s syndrome.

(b) Those conditions that may accord some advantages but nevertheless acceptable:- Congenital adrenal hyperplasia;- Androgen producing tumors;- Anovulatory androgen excess (polycystic ovary syndrome). //

Unlike other women, she cannot get the full performance benefits of testosterone, since she’s almost immune to the stuff. Having three times the female average could well be less effective when it comes to building muscle mass than a normal amount in an average women. Many female athletes have high natural levels of testosterone anyway - though still a third or less of an average male, and a tenth of a male athlete. //

As regards the “dangerous condition” of internal testes, the danger isn’t exactly immediate. There’s a tenfold normal risk of cancer, and it would be wise to have 6-monthly checks, and gonadectomy if any pre-cancerous lesions are found, but that’s it. At worst, 1 in 50, and the estrogen, the female sex hormone also produced by the testes, is useful for preventing oteopyrosis and other conditions, so it’s swings and roundabouts. The real reason for gonadectomy is to stop other people from being upset about the idea of a woman with testes in her body. //

I’ve stated the IAAA’s policy - but that policy is not always followed. The Indian athlete Santhi Soundarajan had CAIS, but was stripped of her medals by Indian authorities, not because she had an advantage, but purely for being Intersexed, a sub-human. She attempted suicide shortly thereafter, as Ms Semanya may do. //

She’s an 18 year old girl from a backwoods African rural village who has given her all to become a world-class athlete. Now she’s had the double blow of being told she’ll never be able to have children, and having her life and ambitions shattered by a global surge of ignorant bigotry. //

Oh yes, I’m Intersexed too. I’m also 51, a middle-aged woman old enough to be a grandma, and used to this kind of thing. She’s only a teenage girl. Some here forget that.

dig September 12, 2009, 10:39 AM

I don’t think she had to shave and most males have facial hair. Coming from a village where there are homes with no indoor plumbing or electricity… there were probably few doctor visits. This is a sad story since her talent would have earned money for her impoverished family. It is beyond cruel to air her condition in public. Let her keep the medal and run as a woman till she grows facial hair to prove her a dominant male.

Zoe Brain September 12, 2009, 4:42 PM

If she has Partial AIS of a high degree, she may have facial hair - as do many women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. (PCOS) //

Apart from that, there would be no external indications. A somewhat masculinised build, but still within female norms, that’s it. No indications “under the skirt” as it were, that would look normal. //

An OB/GYN exam would show that the vagina was blind, with no womb or cervix, but such an exam would be intrusive to say the least, and not exactly commonplace. //

Many women with CAIS who don’t engage in sporting activity - so could be expected to have normal menstruation - only find out when they go to a fertility clinic to find out why their periods haven’t started.

Anonymous September 13, 2009, 5:11 PM

The race Semenya reced in was disigned for women, not men, not hermaphrodites, not persons with disabilities…Hence, the medal should be returned and given to the 1st women who arrived at the finished line.

Jeannie November 17, 2009, 7:04 PM

i think that she should keep it becase
if she would have lost they would not have say nothing about if she was a girl
or boy her gender would not be on the people lips leave her be thank you

max-nix January 6, 2010, 3:57 PM

To be fair she/he/? should have been disqualified before the race if she/he/? was not eligible for the prize!
The officials should take the heat and not the contestant.
Unless, of course,intentional deception (cheating)can be proven.

Anon March 6, 2010, 8:03 AM

It’s unfortunate, especially for her.. I can’t imagine the shock and the heartbreak, as a track athlete myself. However, despite the sad circumstances, realistically one cannot validate her competing within normal competition.

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