A true He-Said-She-Said Believe it or not, there really is a condition that creates the mystical she-male in humans. The unfortunate soul who is born with this condition is referred to as a heraphradite…at least that is the common term. It is when a mammal, in this case a human, is born with both sets of sexual organs to varying degrees. In medical circles the condition is known as pseudohermaphroditism and is broken down into male pseudohermaphroditism and female pseudohermaphroditism. I think it is accurate to say that the two are differentiated by one specific organ being more prevalent but the actual complete masculination or feminization is incomplete. It’s not something that someone would readily admit or promote, but there has been a rumor for years that actress Jamie Lee Curtis fell under that category at birth, prior to surgery. However, Snopes cannot confirm or deny the rumor so who knows and really, who cares and whose business it anyway? Well, it seems that the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAFF) is making it their business in a case that is receiving world wide attention.
Female South African Sprinter Caster Semenya blew the field away in the women’s 800 meter run at last months Track and Field World Championships in Berlin. She did so well that people began making accusations about performance enhancing drugs and even speculation that she was really a he. That infuriated her parents (no surprise) and certainly was embarrassing to the woman because at the root of such speculation was because of her masculine appearance. So, the IAFF decided to investigate and they did so not very quietly. A report emerged from the Sydney Daily Telegraph in Australia that Semenya was hermaphrodite and was repeated by the UK Guardian and others saying that she did not have ovaries but instead had “internal testes” that produced a larger amount of testosterone than normally found in females. When the controversy first erupted in late August, Semenya’s father protested loudly, as would any father, and stated “she’s my little girl.” Meanwhile, another Australian outlet now says that the 18 year old sprinter is in hiding. And it also seems that Semenya has withdrawn from her next event.
For a moment, let’s accept the report. I mean, even the Sporting News is now publishing the report,which I is based on an Associated Press report that is based on the Sydney Daily Telegraph account, but I would suspect that a reputable publication such as the Sporting News would not publish it if they had not checked their sources nor would the AP. It is interesting that the news outlets that are making the report are basing it on the Australian account, my guess in part to give them cover if the orignal source is wrong. But, then again, if the report did not have validity, I would think that the IAFF would make an immediate statement instead of the IAFF waiting until November to issue a statement. Then again, the IAFF does say that the hermaphrodite claim should treated with caution. In any event, if we accept the account as stated, then it is entirely plausible that no one would have known the condition. I mean, is it a part of a normal routine to inspect a healthy human teenage girl to see if she has all the right plumbing? So, here we have a young girl who works hard to be the best in the world and, after she wins, the whole world is told that she is more than meets the eye at the same time that she and the family finds out. Talk about lack of privacy. It would be traumatic news for anyone but to have it splashed across global headlines would be just devastating. On top of that, the IAFF is said to be considering taking away her medal and banning her from future competition.
That has the entire country of South Africa in an uproar. The South African Sports Minister says it means “world war” if Semenya is banned from competition. Wow. It may deserve close examination regarding the ruling but a world war is probably not the best way to handle this. I guess its a bigger story in the Southern Hemisphere because now the New Zealand press is debating the merits of Semenya keeping her gold medal. For the people of South Africa, they were quite supportive as Semenya got a very warm welcome on her return home.
I want to know this…why didn’t anyone question this woman’s background before she won? If it was such a big concern, shouldn’t someone have raised the question before the race? And, if she is banned it would be out of the issue of competitive fairness. Okay fine…but doesn’t that mean that in that same spirit of fairness, that every woman who has ever won a medal in the past should be tested? Regardless of how this ends up, I think it will be accurate to say this has opened a whole can of worms. Let’s hope it doesn’t lead to war.
Weather Bottom Line: Great weather for the next several days. Cool/mild nights and warm and dry afternoons. Remember to water the plants. This is pretty seasonable temperature wise and also September is traditionally one of Louisville’s driest months….so don’t go Global Warming crazy over this.