Friday, September 11, 2009

Caster Semenya has both male & female organs

To be honest, this does not surprise me at all, based on both Caster Semenya's appearance and her publicized deep voice. It turns out, after testing, that Caster Semenya, world women's 800m champion, has both male and female organs.

Indeed, this means that Caster Semenya is technically a hermaphrodite. This fact poses both an ethical and political quandary for track and field's ruling body, the IAAF.

In biological context, a hermaphrodite is an organism that has both male and female reproductive organs. Sequential hermaphrodites occur in species in which

the individual is born as one sex but can later change into the alternate sex. Simultaneous hermaphrodites may possess fully functional male and female organs.

In Caster Semenya's case, reports indicate she has no womb or ovaries, but rather has internal male testes, which are producing large amounts of testosterone. This would explain her musculature and physique. It also gives her an unfair advantage in track and field.

This will raise huge questions. Would suspending her be right? She didn't do this intentionally. On the other hand, the levels of testosterone in her body means Caster Semenya has a huge advantage over other women. I don't expect this to be settled soon.