A few weeks back, I wrote about South African athlete Caster Semenya, the track runner who had to undergo gender verification tests despite winning the World Championships in Berlin last month due to speculations that she may in fact be a man. The tests caused protests all around South Africa–many complaining that such tests treaded on her human rights. Currently, the intersex community has become one of the most out-spoken protesting group, trying to educate people about intersex and trying to rally support for those who don’t exactly have the XX and XY chromosomes that we tend to identify for the female and male sex. But in the world of sports, such gender verification tests are needed, especially when an extra boost of testosterone makes a split second difference. And again, these kinds of allegations are nothing new in the world of sports.
The results of early tests are in! According to the Daily Telegraph, a UK paper, Semenya has elevated testosterone levels. However, the testosterone level is still low enough to be accepted under IAAF standards. Keep in mind that these are just preliminary medical tests, and NOT the full test. Those results will come in a couple weeks.
Meanwhile, Semenya is living it up as the cover model for You Magazine. She had a “glam makeover.” How you want to define that or read into that is up to you. I was thinking of doing a poll to learn what others think about Semenya on the cover, but then I realized that would be quite rude of me. Anyway, I think she looks beautiful on the cover.
Regarding the question of gender, Semenya says, “God made me the way I am and I accept myself. I am who I am and I’m proud.”
UPDATE SEPTEMBER 14, 2009:
Just yesterday, The Guardian, a UK paper, has reported that Semenya is receiving counseling for the results of the gender verification tests. The tests revealed that she is indeed a hermaphrodite, a person who is born with both male and female sexual characteristics and organs. But the saga is not over. International athletics officials will deliver a verdict around late November and will not likely take away the medal Semenya won in August at Berlin.
Perhaps Semenya can finally have some peace after having her life become so public so fast. She will definitely need support as she rediscovers her own sense of identity.
Photo Credit: Mirror.co.uk