September 10, 2009

"[T]he IAAF now have the whole ANC and the whole of South Africa on their backs."

After the International Association of Athletics Federations finds that runner Semenya Caster lacks a womb and ovaries and has internal testes and that this is reason to disqualify her from women's competitions and strip her of her medals, South African politicians are saying it's "racist and sexist":
[A]n IAAF source was today quoted as saying: "There certainly is evidence now that Semenya is a hermaphrodite.... Everything is going to have to be done absolutely by the book, no question of a challenge to our findings. There's all sorts of scans you do. This is why it's complicated. In the past you used to do a gynaecological exam, blood test, chromosome test, whatever. That's why the findings were challenged, because it's not quite so simple. So what they do now is they do everything, and then they can say look, not only has she got this, she's got that and the other. The problem for us is to avoid it being an issue now which is very personal: of the organs being a hermaphrodite, of not being a 'real' woman. It's very dramatic."
And the family sees it in terms of religion and their own personal history:
"It is God who made her look that way but she IS a girl."...
The athlete's uncle Lesiba Rammabi, 51, said her relatives were 'very humiliated' by the reports.

He said: "I believe Caster is normal, inside and out. What does it matter whether she can have babies or not? Many people cannot have children, why else do parents adopt? Are those women not women also? We are a normal family who looked at a child when she was born, saw that she was a girl and raised her as any other family would do. Are we now being told that we are wrong? We are very humiliated by what has been said and do not understand how it can be true. This is a woman who was raised a female. She will always be female, no matter what people say."
That would all be fine except for the fairness to the other athletes. And there is also the question of what Caster herself wants to do. You could be raised as a female because that's what your parents thought you looked like but on reaching puberty decide they made a mistake. She didn't dress in a feminine style but she did go along with this makeover and photoshoot for You magazine:

 
But what does it mean? Quite aside from whether she looks feminine in that picture, it was, after achieving high status in women's running, in her interest to encourage people to think of her as female. 

100 comments:

Seven Machos said...

All we need to do is add a hermaphrodites/other category for foot races in addition to the ones for men and women.

Problem solved, and this person will almost assuredly win, so there's no harm to herhim.

Problem solved. Next.

Methadras said...

Okay. So this person is a he-she or a hermi. So now what? Will the IAAF DQ this hermi from any pending events or will they allow a hermi to compete as a female without the possibility to choose sides? Hmmm, what would Obama do?

Seven Machos said...

Obama would ration herhis health care.

Synova said...

Oh wow. That truly sucks.

It's not as though anyone were being dishonest or attempting to get away with something or trying to portray her as something she is not.

And, on the other hand, it's not as though women who are not actually hermaphrodites don't have significant differences in hormone levels and body physiology.

In one sense she is no different than any other world class athlete who reaches that level because they were born with very fortunate and unique physical attributes that were trained and honed. In another sense, though, the uniqueness is a bit extreme. But she's not a *man* either, is she?

t-man said...

Oh, I bet Jamie Lee Curtis, in her prime, would have beaten Semenya. (C'mon though, is her name really Semen-ya?)

EDH said...

I'm a Boy

I'm a boy, I'm a boy
But my ma won't admit it
I'm a boy, I'm a boy
But if I say I am I get it

rhhardin said...

Just let her compete as a man.

There's no need for a gatekeeper in men's sports.

Skyler said...

What a tragic conclusion to this tale.

I feel bad for him, it's not his fault that he mistakenly thought he was a woman, and the humiliation that he suffers must be more than one could imagine.

But it's not fair to women to require them to compete against this man. When it comes to physical strength and other characteristics, women are not equal to men, nor should they be.

Methadras said...

t-man said...

Oh, I bet Jamie Lee Curtis, in her prime, would have beaten Semenya. (C'mon though, is her name really Semen-ya?)


The last bought of Jamie Lee Curtis hotness was in true lies. After that, feh!!! all downhill. Man she was hot. HOT!!! and a hermi!!!

Freeman Hunt said...

I'm with Synova and Skyler. I feel terrible for Semenya. The whole situation is awful. But, of course, allowing Semenya to compete against women wouldn't be fair.

BJM said...

The article doesn't mentioned her chromosomal determination. Males have two distinct sex chromosomes = XY.

Is Semenya XX or XY?

Have they proved that the internal testes are producing testosterone? If so then that should disqualify her from competing with other women, otherwise extra junk in her trunk don't mean a thing.

Methadras said...

Freeman Hunt said...

I'm with Synova and Skyler. I feel terrible for Semenya. The whole situation is awful. But, of course, allowing Semenya to compete against women wouldn't be fair.


Why not? If heshe is a hermi and has always been identified as female then that shouldn't count? I can understand what you are saying, but what would require being a female and being able to compete as one take? A hormone or dna test to see how much female this person actually has within them? Don't get me wrong, this is different than being transgendered, this is different then being a transsexual or a transvestite, this is actual dna level gender confusion going on here. So what do you choose?

ironrailsironweights said...

If heshe is a hermi and has always been identified as female then that shouldn't count? I can understand what you are saying, but what would require being a female and being able to compete as one take?

If Semenya has male levels of testosterone, she should not be allowed to compete with women even though she's been raised as a girl. She would have an unfair advantage.

Peter

Shanna said...

"There certainly is evidence now that Semenya is a hermaphrodite

Awww, I feel so sorry for her. It's not her fault that she was born different. Maybe it is unfair to others in the race, but life isn't fair.

Big Mike said...

@Methadras, she shouldn't have testicles and compete as a woman.

dbp said...

If she identifies as a woman then she should have no problem having her testes removed. This would bring the testosterone down to normal (for women) levels and she should be good to go.

wv inies-- description of the size/location of her testes

David said...

I don't think athletic rules were or could be designed to deal with this.

Remember this is an athlete who has worked very hard to develop her God given talent, even though God gave the talent in a confusing package.

I feel bad for her. (I say her because that is how she identifies herself. Who the hell am I to disagree?)

As to her sports eligibility, this takes more wisdom than I can muster. Perhaps The Ethicist at the New York Times can enlighten us.

fivewheels said...

It is a bit of an unfair situation, but (not to get all Star Trek II on everyone) it seems the best course is to be a little unfair to Caster rather than a little unfair to every single other competitor and skew the results that are the whole point of competition.

The reason women compete separately is not because of some kind of modest philosophical gender segregation, it's a competitive handicapping thing. Women are presumed, correctly as far as anyone can tell, not to be able to compete fairly with, let's just say, others. The IAAF has no other course, really.

Agnst said...

You need to add a

NTTIATWWT

tag.

wv: lated (?) - answer, yes I've already visited Starbucks today.

Steven said...

Meh.

Eliminate separate women's sports, weight classes, and such in the Olympics and similar venues. Either you can compete at the highest levels in the sport, or you can't.

Freeman Hunt said...

The reason women compete separately is not because of some kind of modest philosophical gender segregation, it's a competitive handicapping thing.

That is, I think, the key.

How disorienting for Semenya. Now what?

Shanna said...

I can't believe her name is actually Semenya.

Aaron said...

okay, i gotta ask a more basic question... why don't we let men and women just compete together. then this, um, person can race and no problem.

What is the theory here? that we should have this sex segregated because women just can't do it as well? well, so what? I take a "wear the pants" approach to equality that doesn't like this kind of coddling.

Old Dad said...

Why not "open" the competition, and then flight the categories? Men, women, and "other" all compete. Nature would then naturally select. Obviously, for track and field, the fastest runners, highest jumpers, and farthest throwers would be dominated by men.

Of course, there are two (at least) problems with my scheme. First, from a marketing standpoint, there is a growing audience for "women's" athletics. Most viewers have little difficulty with gender definition, innies and outies and all that being perfectly well understood. My scheme would alter the landscape considerably. Women, at the highest levels of sport, are almost never competitive with men. On the other hand, who would deny that world class female gymnasts are markedly better than males aesthetically? There is the voyeuristic angle, too, but there's nothing that can or should be done about that.

Second, political correctness, academic feminism, call it what you may, will never allow mainstream media elites to point out the obvious by opening competition. Why yes, of course, women are the equals of men--except for (on average) being smaller, slower and weaker. That's not meant, much, to bait feminists, but it's true and makes a point.

Finally, I'd point out that Caster's 800 meter time that set off this controversy is three seconds slower than the current women's world record, and some 15 seconds slower than the current men's record.

What to do? I'd disqualify Caster from women's competition.

Fred4Pres said...

I have heard Kim Novak and Jamie Lee Curtis had/have the same condition (being xy genetically but being xx at birth in appearance). For a natural condition like this one, the smart move is to classify them as women.

traditionalguy said...

So do they now have to start a league for women trapped in a man's body? Just let her compete with the men. Or they could clone her and she can compete in truly her own league.

fivewheels said...

This situation is not dissimilar to that of Oscar Pistorius, the paralympic runner the IAAF had to ban from regular competition because his high-tech prosthetic feet are springy and actually help him run faster.

The sad fact is, some people are just not able to participate in sports under the rules that make sports what they aim to be: A fair contest.

WV: dowdyan. But I don't think she is at all.

Fred4Pres said...

More information on the subject than you probably care to know...

David said...

How ridiculous can some commenters be.

Men and women do not compete directly in sports because men are larger, faster and stronger. It's simply not a contest.

Why doesn't the Wisconsin high school football champ play the Packers?

Women are doing fantastic things in sports. The female olympic champion swimming times of today are better than those of the men in the 1960's. But men are still bigger and stronger.

The wide availability of competitive sports has been a tremendous asset for American girls over the past several decades. If you can't deal with that, be quiet and stop making a fool of yourself.

traditionalguy said...

Aaron ...In golf we do that but gender norm for strength using Red Tees for the gals. The sport does its women's tour to increase prize money for women. One often ignored result of the Federal rule requiring equal money be spent on women's sports as on men' sports was the elimination of many of the men's best small sports. There was not enough money to spend everyone equal without some Death to Sports decided by a panel then.

Seven Machos said...

American girls do have tremendous assets, David. A lot of them.

I thank the junk food.

$9,000,000,000 Write Off said...

I reject the false choice between competing as a man or woman.

Old Dad said...

David,

I'm with you, for the most part. I've got two daughters, both were jocks, ahem. But you seem to want to argue that faster female swimmers somehow suggest a societal good. That may be true, but I've got no data to support it, no more than for men. But it does seem that some of the improvement in female performance has come at the expense of men--Title IX. Did you know that the University of San Diego, for chrissakes, has no men's Varsity swimming program?

I'm for a free market solution. Everyone should play who can pay. I get no discount at the local golf course for old white guys. Had to pay for my girls to play, too.

Smilin' Jack said...

South African politicians are saying it's "racist and sexist"

Not sure why it's racist, but that does raise another interesting point. There can be no serious doubt that blacks have a genetic advantage in sports involving fast-twitch muscles, such as sprinting and jumping. This advantage may be smaller than the male/female disparity, but it's still quite significant. Shouldn't sports be segregated by race as well as gender?

Roger J. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Roger J. said...

I don't care what the IAAF does, but for gaia's sake do not eliminate women's beach volleyball.

Fred4Pres said...

Is Ann Coulter a man, baby?

Perhaps we should ask Bill Maher.

JAL said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JAL said...

There are some sports in which men and women compete together.

Of course they are usually sports which involve doing something with something else which provides the movement and/or speed and is generally independent of the athlete's abilities.

In the equine world we have eventing, show jumping, and all the varieties of different styles of riding - reining, saddle seat, hunters, western pleasure, endurance, etc.

A little more difficult in horse racing -- but there are some competitive female jockeys.

In auto racing there is Danika Patrick, but high speed auto racing involves G forces on the body which put women at a disadvantage.

I'm with the sad-for-her folks. South Africa is a tough place to get out of or advance in for a black woman of limited means.

Remove the testicles and see how he/she does.

9/10/09 4:32 PM

Gabriel Hanna said...

Jamie Lee Curtis is not a hermaphrodite.

This is a stupid rumor, right up there with Rod Stewart having to have a quart of semen pumped from his stomach.


Jamie Lee Curtis and her sister, Kelly Lee, were given androgynous names before they were born.

http://www.snopes.com/movies/actors/jamie.asp

LordSomber said...

It's "Pat".

Seven Machos said...

Rod Stewart did not have a quart of semen pumped from his stomach. That is a bizarre rumor perpetuated by lairs.

Rod Stewart was the one who had to have a hamster removed from his rectum.

Skyler said...

Remove the testicles and see how he/she does.

That is a stupid statement.

Removing the testicles from a man does not make him not a man. The muscle and body have already grown and developed as a man.

Besides, that's a pretty presumptive thing to require of another human.

And everyone knows that the hamster was in Richard Gere. Sheesh.

Bushman of the Kohlrabi said...

Wow, hard to believe that she didn't see this coming. Don't athletes at this level of competition have coaches and aren't they subjected to rigorous medial tests and examinations? I mean, c’mon, she had to know she was different. Even if she didn’t, someone around her should have been smart enough to ask the right questions. I know this wouldn’t resolve her dilemma but perhaps it would have allowed her to avoid this type of public embarrassment.

MnMark said...

The controversy highlights the not-much-talked-about fact that black people naturally have higher levels of testosterone. Asians have the least. (This has been confirmed by studies exploring why blacks have higher levels of prostate cancer than other races.) It makes sense, since blacks tend to have more lean muscle mass. And women have testosterone too.

Look at the Williams sisters in tennis. Look at the huge muscular arms on those women, great big powerful thighs, big muscular butts. It's an advantage over the slim little white eastern european girls they often beat. Why is it an advantage? For the same reason that some athletes try to cheat by taking steroids: more muscle means more power.

So the Williams sisters essentially have a built-in unfair advantage of the non-black athletes: it's like they were taking steroids, except their bodies naturally produce them.

That's unfair for the same reason it's unfair to put women in the same league as men. It's not an even match. It's not matching up people of roughly equal natural endowments.

So really, there should be leagues in the different sports for people of the different races just like there are men's and women's leagues. There can also be cross-racial leagues and events like the Olympics.

Of course that would be politically incorrect to the extreme. So we'll have to go on like we are for a while at least, pretending that the Williams sisters and others like them are only winning because they are better tennis players, and not because they are enjoying the benefit of what amounts to legal, natural steroids not available to their competitors.

Fred4Pres said...

Actually the Snopes link does not give an answer to this question.

I have heard it from doctor friends who were told it in medical school (which fits right in with the snopes report). True or not with these individuals, it definitely does occur. I would say if the condition is not voluntary or created and happens at birth, gender should be the one adopted.

Fred4Pres said...

And as for race cars and flying, women may have an advantage for dealing with G-Force. It is a matter of momentum and women, being smaller, have less of it. Does anyone know the answer to this?

The fact that we have few women drivers and pilots, just like we have few female jockies, may be more cultural than physiological.

Chris Althouse Cohen said...

I was under the impression that "hermaphrodite" was not the PC term and that "intersexed" is the correct one. If I were biologically somewhere between male and female, I think I'd prefer the matter-of-fact "intersexed" over the Greek mythology-based "hermaphrodite," since the latter sounds more like a freak or a carnival attraction.

Also, it's definitely wrong to refer to her as a man, since it sounds like she is primarily female and has a vagina, totally apart from the fact that she clearly wants to be considered a woman. The "internal testes" are probably not very developed. There many different variations of intersexed people and if you looked at the actual genitalia some would look more like male sex organs, some would look more like female sex organs. I assume a lot of them would be somewhere in the middle.

It would be really hard to deal with, partly because if you look at some pictures of them, they don't have the most attractive-looking genitalia in the world. If you look some of these up, you'll see why intersexed people tend to want to become women, and they often get surgery. Some of them have what's called a "micropenis." And they're not pretty. They're actually too small to be used for sexual intercourse. I think getting sexual reassignment surgery and going all female would be preferable to having a micropenis.

bagoh20 said...

Wow, what a mess. All I know is that if it ends in a 5, then you round up.

This story has the special feature of being unfair to everyone at once.

The Drill SGT said...

JAC said...Also, it's definitely wrong to refer to her as a man, since it sounds like she is primarily female and has a vagina, totally apart from the fact that she clearly wants to be considered a woman. The "internal testes" are probably not very developed. There many different variations of intersexed people and if you looked at the actual genitalia some would look more like male sex organs, some would look more like female sex organs. I assume a lot of them would be somewhere in the middle.

I read it exactly the opposite.

Testes = Yes
Ovaries = No
Vagina = Yes
Uterous = No
Penis = apparently not

the money quote = Semenya is claimed to have NO womb or ovaries — and has internal testes, the male sexual organs which produce testosterone.

so she is getting testosterone, but no female hormone production because no ovaries...

From a competition perspective that is irreversable. A woman that got testosterone shots is always going to be more muscular than regular females. There is no grandmother clause.

She has testosterone and should compete with Men.

The Drill SGT said...

sorry CAC, not JAC

bagoh20 said...

Good point Sgt. That is the important factor in this question. Otherwise she is cheating against the women, even if unintentional.

What would happen if a female athlete was injected with testosterone without her knowing (I don't know on rufies or something)?

Fred4Pres said...

I have also read that these underdeveloped testes need to be surgically removed, since the danger of testicular cancer is much higher in such circumstances. If they go, can she still compete as a woman? I do not know the answer to that, but I would lean towards letting her do so.

The Drill SGT said...

What would happen if a female athlete was injected with testosterone without her knowing (I don't know on rufies or something)?

haven't there been a bunch of athletes that were caught in doping scandals (olympics, tour de France, etc). They plead, "my trainer gave me shots, I didn't know they weren't vitamins". As far as I known, the answer has always been, "Tuff Sh_t. Give the medals back, you are DQ and banned"

Cedarford said...

Shanna said...
"There certainly is evidence now that Semenya is a hermaphrodite

Awww, I feel so sorry for her. It's not her fault that she was born different. Maybe it is unfair to others in the race, but life isn't fair..


Repeat:
"She" has balls.
"She" has balls.
Balls.

There is no fault...except a complete failure by S African sporting officials to have their sports physicians ensure their athletes are properly tested and vetted.
Your reaction to a bearded 6'8" raised in a remote BUlgarian village as a female lacking a dick but having undescended balls and shattering all female weightlifting and hammer throw records - would be what? Let the records stand since all 280 muscle-rippled pounds of "her" thought he was a she??

Blacks screaming "racism!!" on the bad news of testicles from the tests??? So typical. It is their umbrella excuse for everything. Even finding balls.


It has been that way in the media as well since 1900s, in America. When prominent socialist and communist party people in the media, finance, and law decided to form the NAACP, and begin the tactic of portraying themselves as "champions" of fighting racism on behalf of those with "lesser means and intellects" in the media, black union leader elections. A calculated narrative. And ran the NAACP and other "Fronts" for blacks from the 1900s to the mid 60s.

Basically to leverage black votes and union power into progressive agenda, steering blacks to spend their money with "progressive" merchants and landlords, their taxes to establish municipal patronage for progressives who would "mentor" blacks until they were "ready" to take such positions themselves.. In return, they would also scream "racism!" on behalf of blacks with less money and intellectual gifts in the media....and bask in black gratitude..
And that way in the European media since French intellectuals formed the "white is bad, colored is good!" anti-colonial movement of the late 50s.

It is a path to power. Somehow African blacks screaming "racism" on news of balls seems comical. But NY Times and ACLU screams of protest about "disproportionate numbers of young black males in prison for things like armed robbery - just as ridiculous - are accepted as just what they scream and moan about regularly for the past 100 years.
It is all about the people who establish the narrative. The narrative's power is in persistance. Some societies take decades, generations, even centuries to alter to believe in the power of the narrative. But they are patient.

****************
MnMark - Interesting thing about blacks higher levels of testosterone (and higher behavioral aggressiveness that comes from higher testosterone levels, also mostly unsaid in polite society..A child psychologist crossed the line and got into real academic trouble by saying that black preadolscents from infancy onwards, display more aggresiveness, earlier motor coordination, and are more likely to attack others in a peer social setting...as a natural condition. Some day care center providers who insisted not be named, said it was generally true by their observations - but said it might be due to "early family interactions"..and said it would hurt their business and reputation if they openly discussed it.)

Jason (the commenter) said...

ironrailsironweights: If Semenya has male levels of testosterone, she should not be allowed to compete with women even though she's been raised as a girl. She would have an unfair advantage.

She doesn't, she has high, but acceptable levels of testosterone for a woman.

And just so everyone knows, women produce testosterone in their ovaries and adrenal glands.

Jason (the commenter) said...

Chris Althouse Cohen: I was under the impression that "hermaphrodite" was not the PC term and that "intersexed" is the correct one. If I were biologically somewhere between male and female, I think I'd prefer the matter-of-fact "intersexed" over the Greek mythology-based "hermaphrodite," since the latter sounds more like a freak or a carnival attraction.

I think "hermaphrodite" sounds fantastic, I know I have no problem with "homosexual." Also, it's better for them to say hermaphrodite because that doesn't have the connotation of being a "third sex" like "intersexed" does. If we say she's a third sex, it's easier to think she's not a woman, if we say she's a hermaphrodite it's easier to think of her as a woman with testes. And she's trying to keep her medal she won as a woman.

Also, it's definitely wrong to refer to her as a man

I agree here. I think some people were just being mean.

Some of them have what's called a "micropenis." And they're not pretty.

I love looking at penises, but neither penises nor vaginas are pretty.

I think getting sexual reassignment surgery and going all female would be preferable to having a micropenis.

If you think of yourself as a guy and want to sleep with women then getting a vagina might be a bad idea.

They can still have a sex life with a micropenis. They still have tongues and fingers don't they? Hell, some people probably love micropenises.

Summer Anne said...

She has testosterone and should compete with Men.

It cracks me up that someone who deigns their knowledge of this issue complete enough to participate in the debate would make a statement this ignorant.

All women have testosterone. Some have more than others. About one in ten women have more testosterone than "normal" thanks to post-cystic ovarian syndrome, not to mention a ton of other reasons that women can have increased levels of t.

The folks who are questioning the validity of separate women's sports existing at all -- I hope the world is never as pragmatically harsh as all that. I hope you're all blessed with beautiful daughters who love to run and jump and kick and swing and catch, and I hope you all follow your own guidelines and throw them in with the boys and see what it does to their self-confidence.

Second, political correctness, academic feminism, call it what you may, will never allow mainstream media elites to point out the obvious by opening competition. Why yes, of course, women are the equals of men--except for (on average) being smaller, slower and weaker. That's not meant, much, to bait feminists, but it's true and makes a point.

What point is that? Men are also ("on average") more likely to commit violent crime, rape, abuse their children, cheat on their spouse, and abandon their children. So?

As for Caster... it's a sad story. I really feel for her and her family, but I have no idea what the fair thing to do athletically is. I don't think any outcome is going to be fair to everyone... and so it goes.

William said...

I can sympathize with her existential dilemna. I myself was born with a partially formed vulva under my right arm. I have suffered chronic and recurrent hip dislocations because of this condition. On the plus side I'm very good at certain yoga exercises....Is it really true that black hermaphrodites are treated worse than white hermaphrodites?

Shanna said...

All women have testosterone. Some have more than others.

Exactly. That's what I mean about life is not fair. Granted she's a special case, for sure, and I'm not sure the best answer, but I wish she could keep the medal.

(I think hermaphrodite is an awesome way to describe it. Everybody knows what you're talking about. Intersexed? Lame!)

Michael Hasenstab said...

I am considering re-identifying as a toupee-American. Or maybe having hair (plug) re-assignment surgery.

wv: nospoo. A man without testicles has nospoo.

William R. Hamblen said...

Look up "testicular feminization syndrome" to get an idea of what might be happening medically in Semenya's case. The description of her condition is consistent with this syndrome.

Skyler said...

You can call him a him or a her, it makes little difference. Anyone with testicles and XY chromosomes is a male. Personal preference doesn't change what they are.

You may think it "polite" to call him a her, but I call it sexual nihilism that encourages people to think that male and female are unfortunate biological remnants of an outdated animal past.

Sex is not outdated or politically incorrect. He may have a tragic syndrome or other medical issue, but as his story is being related to us, we must conclude based on that evidence that he's still a man, and there is nothing that can change it, as tragic as his story might be.

Summer Anne said...

You can call him a him or a her, it makes little difference. Anyone with testicles and XY chromosomes is a male. Personal preference doesn't change what they are.

You're picking and choosing your criteria based on the context of Semenya's appearance and athletic success... You could just as easily say "anyone born with a vagina is a female" if this was a different kind of story. Honestly, how much did you know academically about intersex conditions before deciding to comment on this story? Here's some more info on whether or not XY chromosome really makes someone a man (hint: it doesn't).

Summer Anne said...

Incidentally, these reports are preliminary and do not reflect an actual release of the tests. See sports scientist for an actual reasonable, well-supported discussion of the issues. From that blog:

Now, let's just very quickly look at the claims - the presence of testes, and the absence of a uterus, would suggest that she is genetically male (has a Y chromosome, possibly XY, possibly XXY). In order to develop as a female, she may be insensitive to androgens, or have a deficiency in an enzyme in the androgen pathway. This means that if the reports are accurate, she may have AIS (Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome) or alpha-5-reductase deficiency, or possibly a genetic abnormality that is much rarer than these (which are pretty uncommon themselves) and results in the development of an under-masculinized male (there are three categories of condition - under-masculinized males, masculinized females and hermaphrodites).

What people need to know is that AIS, if complete, as well as alpha-5-reductase deficiency, are both conditions which the IAAF policy says are "allowed". The problem is with partial AIS, where it becomes a decision around whether she has an advantage or not. And that is exactly the same position as we were in before, though now we have a possible biological piece of the puzzle to add to yesterday's debate.

The Drill SGT said...

Skyler,

I'd split the differences between you and Summer Ann

This person almost certainly has CAIS.

1. Genetically, I agree with you, male. She is XY

2. behaviorly, these people self identify female

3. at issue is athletic competition, and the money quote from wiki says it all:

Hormone measurements in pubertal girls and women with CAIS and PAIS are similar, and are characterized by total testosterone levels in the upper male rather than female range....

we would disqualify a natural woman who took testosterone shots, this woman has balls, higher testosterone levels than normal for a woman and this created abnormal muscularture development (for a woman). She should not be able to compete as a woman and of course neither should a man who had a sex change operation. You can't undo those high testosterone levels and the development they caused.

Skyler said...

2. behaviorly, these people self identify female

Self-identification is meaningless. They are male or they are female or they are in a tragic condition of being neither. From what we've been told here, he is a male that has not developed quite properly, but he is still a male. If he wishes to wear dresses, that's his business, and none of mine, unless he wishes to compete in sports as a woman.

He does not have a vagina, he does not have ovaries or a uterus, but he does have testicles. It's pretty much cut and dried what he is.

If you take the bulldog logo off of a mack truck, and put tassles on the mirrors, that doesn't make the truck a tricycle.

I feel bad for him. He's morally blameless. But he's still a man.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Fred4Pres:

Actually the Snopes link does not give an answer to this question.

Yes, it does--there is no evidence whatever to suppose that Jamie Lee Curtis is a hermaphrodite.

I have heard it from doctor friends who were told it in medical school (which fits right in with the snopes report)

Because doctors NEVER repeat baseless assertions?

Unless these "doctor friends" actually examined Jamie Lee Curtis for themselves, they don't know what they are talking about any more than you do, and medical schools don't issue licenses to spread rumors.

In college I knew a student in the Hotel and Restaurant Administration program who was told by one of her professors that Kentucky Fried Chicken uses genetically engineered chickens with four breasts and no head. Should we believe that one too?

grapp said...

How utterly humiliating for this young woman to have the IAAF blare her personal medical information to the whole world! What it does to her to have the world told she does not have a womb! Even if she's a hermaphrodite, it is unlikely she knew that. She's from South Africa; what do you think has happened to her chances for marriage now?

The assumption seems to be that since she lacks a womb and has internal testes that she wants to be a man, in her heart of hearts. Nobody knows that. All we know for sure is that, from birth, her external organs said female. She was raised female. She's athletic. She likes to run. She views herself female. To be told that you have no womb, devastating! Think of the women who've had to had their womb or breasts removed because of disease. Think of the psychological impact that had on them.

Female athletes are not known for being frilly in their dress. So, it's no surprise that for the make over picture she didn't wear frills and a feather boa.

One thing I know for sure, the IAAF has harmed this young woman, Semenya, irreparably. The South Africans have a right to be outraged!

grapp said...

Semenya has INTERNAL testes, not external ones. That means she's likely getting NO testosterone production. Think of two 8 year old kids, a boy and a girl. They both have the same strength. He's got balls but no testosterone production; I don't know if his balls have even dropped down yet cuz I was never a boy. Anyway, she can beat the hell out of him, sometimes, even though he's got balls cuz those balls aren't doing anything much.

Think of the same two kids at puberty. The testes have dropped, the testosterone factory is working, his voice and body changes. She can't beat him at anything much anymore. If Semenya is better at races, put it down to a combination of natural ability and training. How many men with testosterone can beat Jamaica's Usain Bolt?

Back to Semenya (Seh-meh-nya, not se-men-ya). She's got INTERNAL testes. She's got no balls outside her body. No balls outside means no testosterone more than what's pumping through the average woman, and maybe a little more cuz she's an athlete. The reports don't even indicate she's got a mini-penis. If she had, that would've been a BIG story in South Africa. Her family and the hospital staff would've had something to say about that. That they didn't tell us that in the pubic area, she's normal. THe IAAF relied on blood and other chemical tests, and not just on a physical examination to form their conclusion.

I hate to break the news, but every woman has testosterone in her system. Every man has estrogen in his. That's how we're made. It doesn't mean that men are really women locked inside a man's body or vice versa. All it means is we've got testosterone and estrogen. A demanding exercise routine is going to raise the testosterone level .

So, BS to all that stuff about Semenya being a man trapped inside a woman's body. I just hope the girl can find herself a good man in South Africa now that the IAAF has told the whole world she doesn't have a womb.

Summer Anne said...

Skyler,

You seem to be willfully not paying attention because of your prejudices. She does have a vagina. It's useless to discuss this with you any further.

Summer Anne said...

I'd like to see some of the commenters on this thread imagine having a baby girl -- pronounced a girl by your doctors, but who cares because you can clearly see she's a girl, who grows up to be a great runner -- a future
Olympian, even! -- and people tease your girl for being "mannish" or "ugly" but you love her and are so proud. And then she's given a " drug test " that really turns out to be a complex gender test and suddenly you and your little girl and the entire goddamn world are suddenly aware that she is not so normal inside. She is a "freak," some people even call her a man, and she will never be able to bear children.

How incredibly sad this must be for her and her family. Those of you calling her a he or whatever the fuck should be ashamed. What is to be done about her running is tbd, but she is most definitely a woman to her mama.

Skyler said...

You seem to be willfully not paying attention because of your prejudices. She does have a vagina. It's useless to discuss this with you any further.

No, he has something similar to a vagina, but it is not a vagina.

He attempted to compete as a woman when he is a man. It's not from any moral blame, but it's certainly part of the deal. If he wants the acclaim and the awards, he has to meet the requirements.

It's a very tragic story. I feel bad for him, but there you have it.

Skyler said...

And Summer Ann, you should be ashamed for calling him a her. That you are confused about what he is does not change what he is.

Shanna said...

She could try to live as a man, but she isn’t really built like one. The link above said most of these cases, they chose to raise them as female in part because most of them can’t really have the same kind of sex life as a male.

This isn’t about being PC, she wasn't born a man and chose to become a woman (if that were the case I would agree with you certainly), but this is how she was born. Some people are like this.

Whether it’s fair is a difficult question, but to me, she should be allowed to keep the medals. Then they can make decisions about what to do in the future with this kind of case, but unless they had some established policy, I would think she won this thing.

Summer Anne said...

Skyler,

The fact that you keep spelling my name wrong is telling. SHE HAS A VAGINA. If she didn't, none of this ever would have come up because her parents would have known from birth that something was up. Unfortunately, all of the complications are inside, and from sight SHE is a WOMAN, which is why organizations calling for her to just show her privates was so ridiculous and ignorant. I'm not going to insist on calling an intersexed (INTERsexed, not male) person who has been raised as a woman for her entire life "he" just because there's some weird stuff going on inside. I wonder if you were married to a woman and she had trouble conceiving and then it was discovered that she had a similar condition, how you would feel? It's completely plausible and has happened to people before. Would you immediately start calling her a man and call yourself gay? Oh, or just leave her? Or would you simply accept that this was a strange, sad tragedy, and accept your wife for who she was?

I already think I know the answer -- you're much too prejudiced to accept that life is full of grey areas and that compassion is necessary. But it's the "wrong answer" from a moral perspective and I pray that no one in your life ever has to face that kind of discrimination and callousness.

Shanna, the organization responsible for whether she keeps the medals has made it clear that if such a condition was to come to light they would allow her to keep them. It's really not her fault that she was born this way, and there is certainly a lot of evidence that she had no idea and that this was as much (if not more) of a shock to her and her family as it was to anyone else. Regardless of what to do moving forward -- I tend to agree with the people who feel that she should perhaps (if she wants to) undergo the surgeries necessary to remove her inner testes and then see where that leaves her hormone levels -- they take her medals away, I think there will be quite an outcry.

Skyler said...

Sommer Ahn,

Your fee-eeee-eeee-eeeelings don't change reality. An XY is sufficient to make him a man. A simple, nonfunctional fold in the skin does not make him a woman.

As for your hypothetical, it is irrelevent. It's a tragic situation, attempting to make a personal hypothetical doesn't change the equation or make it less tragic.

I'm endeared by your prayers and castigations. They're so cute. It shows that you have fee-eeee-eeee-eeeelings.

But it doesn't change the facts and appealing to fee-eeee-eeee-eeeelings is a sign of having no argument remaining. You've declared yourself wrong.

Summer Anne said...

Your fee-eeee-eeee-eeeelings don't change reality. An XY is sufficient to make him a man. A simple, nonfunctional fold in the skin does not make him a woman.

Your empty claims don't change reality either. Where are your references for these statements of fact that you're making? Find me a doctor or serious scientist who agrees with you. You'll notice that even the news articles, surely written to extract the most possible drama from this story, don't insist that Caster is a "man."

I'm endeared by your prayers and castigations. They're so cute. It shows that you have fee-eeee-eeee-eeeelings. But it doesn't change the facts and appealing to fee-eeee-eeee-eeeelings is a sign of having no argument remaining. You've declared yourself wrong.

No, appealing to human morality and "feelings" IS my argument. There's no clear answer right now as to whether or not Caster Semenya "is" a man or a woman. When all the facts come to light, I suspect that doctors or scientists will tell us that, biologically speaking, she is "neither" or "both", not one or the other. But she was raised as a woman and feels that she is a woman and her family feels that she is a woman, and given the LACK OF FACTS in the rest of the story -- don't pretend you know things you don't, like whether her vagina is "functioning" as a sex organ, that information is not included in these leaks -- I think it is cruel and heartless to refer to her as a man. That's my argument. You're not hurting my "feelings" my claiming I'm appealing to them, I'm fine with that accusation. I'm saying that feelings are important in this case, especially since neither you nor I actually has the expertise OR THE INFORMATION to know whether Caster is biologically more a man or a woman.

The Drill SGT said...

For those who say she should keep the medals, I have 3 questions.

1. What about your compassion for the women beaten by this person?

2. What should be the status of all the other competitors, male and female who are caught taking performance enhancing drugs and who claim, "I didn't know, my trainer said they were vitamin shots"?

3. Do they keep their medals and keep competing?

The Drill SGT said...

one more:

4. should testosterone shots be allowed for women athletes?

Summer Anne said...

Drill,

What about your compassion for the women beaten by this person?

Meh. I have way less compassion for them then I have for her. They will go on to continue to race and to live their lives being who they have always been told they are, without the world debating about their private parts or questioning their womanhood. Her entire life has been shattered. They can deal.

What should be the status of all the other competitors, male and female who are caught taking performance enhancing drugs and who claim, "I didn't know, my trainer said they were vitamin shots"?

All the "other"? She wasn't caught taking drugs. She was born this way. I think athletes should be held responsible for what they put in their bodies if it breaks the rules AT THE TIME they do so. I don't believe they should be crucified for taking things that are against the rules now but not at the time they took them. I don't see how any of this applies to Caster in the slightest.

Do they keep their medals and keep competing?

See above.

should testosterone shots be allowed for women athletes?

No. Again, not related.

--

As an aside, I hope you guys all know that the "normal" level of testosterone for a woman is a pretty wide range already. Many women, especially athletes, have a level of testosterone that is higher than other women. One in ten women has a condition called PCOS that makes their testosterone levels higher than average. Testosterone in women isn't cut and dry either.

Zoe Brain said...

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.

Some of which is apparent in these comments.

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.

For those guys insisting that she's "really" a male - have you had a karyotype recently? How do you know you're not a 46XX with De La Chapelle syndrome who only looks like a man, and is "really" female?

I myself, by the way, am Intersexed. The technical term for my syndrome is "protandrous dichogamous pseudohermaphrodite", but I prefer "woman with an interesting medical history", or just plain "woman" for short.

Skyler said...

SA,

You really don't even understand competition.

It's common knowlege that women have varying levels of testosterone. Good for them. I think testosterone is a good thing to have. The issue is not how much testosterone he has, but whether he is a woman. He is not.

In some cases it is debatable what sex someone is. He has no ovaries, he has no uterus. You debate the existence of a vagina. But seriously, he must have had some suspicions something was wrong when he had no mentruation (no uterus, no shedding of uterine wall). I'm not a doctor but these things are obvious.

He is a man, pure and simple. He's an improperly formed man, but a man nonetheless. It's a very tragic story.

Zoe Brain said...

Skyler - regarding your "XY means male" idea:
A 46,XY mother who developed as a normal woman underwent spontaneous puberty, reached menarche, menstruated regularly, experienced two unassisted pregnancies, and gave birth to a 46,XY daughter with complete gonadal dysgenesis. - J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2008 Jan;93(1):182-9.

No, you're not a doctor. In fact, it's obvious you're almost completely ignorant of the biological complexities in Intersex conditions.

Not that that makes you Robinson Crusoe, you're not exactly alone in your ignorance. It's a subject that even specialists find difficult to keep up with.

I really suggest that you have a look at this site first. Then come back and see of you can give a definition of "male" and "female" that passes the giggle test.

Zoe Brain said...

Skyler - you *do* know that very few female athletes menstruate, due to their gruelling training regime? It's not unusual for some to start their periods only after ceasing active competition. Same goes for women in combat.

For that matter, have you had a karyotype lately? You could have the 46XX chromosomes usually found only in females, and De La Chapelle Syndrome.

You could have persistent mullerian duct syndrome, and have internal and dysfunctional womb and ovaries, and not know.

If you're really unlucky (as some men are) you could be a protandrous dichogamous pseudohermaphrodite, and are destined for a partial female puberty in later life. OK, so that's maybe 1 in 20 million, but still. Most - about 2/3 - have female gender identities, and for them the natural change cures lifelong transsexuality. But in the other third, it induces it. Such cases are tragic.

Unless you've accessed your medical records from birth, you could have been "surgocally corrected" as early as 2 months after birth, as some are. Assigning you an arbitrary gender.

BTW, thanks for your service. I've worked alongside some of Uncle Sam's Misguided Children, and found the officers in particular to be very well educated. As I said, ignorance in this area is akmost universal, and quite understandable.

Summer Anne said...

Skyler,

She is from a small town in South Africa. Knowledge of normal menstruation cycles might be lacking. Plus, many very athletic women do not menstruate. But you wouldn't know that, because you really have no idea what you're talking about. Please read the posts from Zoe here and educate yourself. You are stating bigoted, ignorant opinions as though they are inarguable fact and providing no research or science to back them up. I requested that you provide a link to any credible doctor or scientist who agrees with your definition of gender and you did not.

The reason why I mentioned that women have varying levels of t is because some of your supporters on this thread have made statements such as "she has testosterone, she is a man," which is just as uninformed as "she has testicles, she is a man."

As for "You really don't even understand competition."

Really? Because we disagree about whether or not we have enough information to diagnose Caster Semenya as a man and whether she should be stripped of her medals considering that she was apparently unaware of her condition? I don't understand "competition" because of that? Quite the leap. We can talk about baseball or teenage girls instead -- two things I know quite a bit more about than I do about the intersex condition -- and see who knows more about competition.

Skyler said...

Zoe, that website you linked to is pathetic. Not only does it blatantly say that these are men who are malformed, it then goes on to use inuendo to smear a whole host of people that have never claimed to have CAIS or PAIS. That website, even if it did disagree with my assertion, has no credibility.

Skyler said...

I'd like to also make clear this point:

There are certainly some people who have XY that should be politely referred to as women. They appear feminine and have all or most female organs and characteristics. Apparently according to Zoe, they might even bear children.

But this man looks like a man. He has a deep voice like a man. He has no female genitalia or organs. No breasts are noticeable in a very thin shirt. He has testicles, albeit undescended. He has a very masculine physique.

There is a line to be drawn somewhere on people with intersex problems. I don't draw that line so far that this man should be considered a woman.

Zoe Brain said...

Skyler -

She has labia majora, labia minora, clitoris, clitoral hood, urethra inside the vulva and a short vagina. That is, she has all the external, and some of the internal, female genitalia.

So to say she has no female genitalia is a "terminological inexactitude". I would have expected a higher degree of precision from a lawyer.

Talking about which - she would be considered female in law in 48 states of the USA, and part of the 49th - in all parts of Texas but those in the Texas 6th circuit of appeals. But of course you must know that, as a lawyer who is speaking about Intersex issues. Unless you're completely unprepared, and are making things up as you go along, with no legal or scientific justification.

Stating that a woman who has gotten pregnant and given birth is only a female "by courtesy" is an interesting view. Feel free to make it before a judge and jury, or for that matter, amongst your peers.

It would certainly make for interesting case law if adopted. Many state constitutions would be under challenge, all those that ban same-sex marriage because same-sex marriage cannot produce children.

The point is, while you are perfectly entitled to your opinion that any given person is male or female, based upon arbitrary criteria such as height, chromosomes, or length of hair - all of which have a strong statistical correlation with sex - your opinions in the area are exactly as valuable as those of Code Pink when it comes to MOUT, the AirLand Battle, vertical envelopment, and care and feeding of the Karl Gustav 84mm recoilless rifle.

Which is to say, not much.

I would be interested in your definition of male and female though. Especially in cases such as 5ARD and 17BHDD, who are protogynous dichogamous pseudohermaphrodites, and change from female to male.

Jerry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
grapp said...

Skyler, you're lying on Semenya. She has a VAGINA. Get used to it. She does not have a womb. Deep voice etc does not make a woman a man. Cut the 'intersex' crap. A hermaphrodite is not a kind of homosexual or transvestite. The girl is an athlete, fer cryin' out loud. You don't see too many female athletes with big tits. If the size of her breasts is a criterion for femininity, then I have a cousin whom you would call male cuz she's got more nipple than breast fat. Having internal testes is not the same as having balls. If you're a guy, I'd like to see you explain to some girl, 'oh, my balls are inside me, nothing to worry about.' She'd laugh you out of her house. Having internal testes is not like standing in cold water and feeling your balls retract (or so the guys tell me happens). Semenya's large featured and big boned. She's got a deep voice; she's not the first woman with that and she won't be the last. Stop using Semenya's situation to fit your agenda, fer goodness sake!

Summer Anne said...

Thanks y'all... Zoe, your knowledge in this area is a huge aid to what was mostly intuition on my part. Thank you for the information! The people on the other side of this "debate" have provided no actual facts, just strange personal biases. And grapp, your last comment was perfect!

Skyler, as a lawyer I know this probably doesn't come naturally to you, but maybe you should stop backtracking and tacking on new arguments to your old ones and just admit that you don't really know what you're talking about. Now she's a man because she has a deep voice? That's not just ignorant, it's offensive. Your comments are becoming increasingly misogynistic and seem to be based solely on weird personal bias. Where's your evidentiary proof?

I really feel for Caster and her family. No matter what happens to her future in athletics, this was handled very poorly.

AlphaLiberal said...

I can't believe this. This person must already be living through a lot of personal pain that they have overcome to compete.

Now this public drubbing... ugh.

Freeman Hunt said...

Intersex thread reminds me of circumcision threads.

Joseph said...

Sex is not binary. There is variation. The fact that intersex people keep quiet about it does not mean they don't exist or that we shouldn't take their existence into account.

I'd say we should have less sex-based segregation in all aspects of society. In order to account for the testosterone differences, sports like track and field could be segregated by weight in the same way sports like wrestling are now.

Laura(southernxyl) said...

I think it's funny how concern is expressed over women having to compete with Caster, yet the commenters here who can't bring themselves to call her "she" and express outrage over her self-identity as a woman are men.

jaed said...

Whatever is done concerned Semenya's competitive status, can we agree on locating whoever decided it was a bright idea to do all this in the public eye and having them eaten by wolves?

holdfast said...

I don't think Caster is a man, and in fact seems to be closer to a woman than to a man, but Caster still does not fall within the parameters of "woman" and it is unfair that she compete as one. Those "frilly" pictures of her are almost an obscenity - she looks ridiculous and uncomfortable to boot.

Zoe Brain said...

jaed - too good for them.

Something lingering, with boiling oil in it, I fancy. Something of that sort. I think boiling oil occurs in it, but I'm not sure. I know it's something humorous, but lingering, with either boiling oil or melted lead.

kentuckyliz said...

The magazine cover with the femmied up Caster doesn't help his/her cause; it looks like a man dressed up as a woman.

Perhaps there can be a drag queen category in the sports world.