Cape Argus

Being fair to Semenya not the only issue


ACCORDING to a report released in April 2019 by the Court of Arbitratio­n in Sport, Caster Semenya (the reigning Olympic 800m champion) has testes and male chromosome­s, but suffers from a genetic disorder (5-alpha reductase deficiency) “in which normal male sexual developmen­t fails in utero, resulting in a pseudo-vagina (that is to say, genitals that appear to be a vagina at birth, but are in fact the result of an extremely underviril­ised penis)”.

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Due to this condition, which is usually characteri­sed by testes that are hidden in the abdomen, Semenya was raised as a girl and probably did not realise she was male until she reached puberty and failed to menstruate.

Be that as it may, the fact of the matter is that Caster is, biological­ly speaking, a man and has testostero­ne levels that are far higher than the women she competes against. This allows her to build muscle much easier than would ordinarily be the case, and also provides her, according to the experts, with several other advantages.

Consequent­ly, the demand that she reduce her testostero­ne levels ( which could be done by taking an oral contracept­ive or removing the testes surgically) is understand­able. We cannot have different rules for different sporting-codes and therefore have to take cognisance of the fact that a female boxer or MMA fighter could be seriously injured by an intersex athlete whose only claim to being a woman stems from the fact that she was raised as a girl and still identifies as a woman.

The desire to be fair to intersex athletes must play second-fiddle to the need to be fair.


 ??  ?? Caster Semenya
Caster Semenya

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