It's about our community and our spirituality!

The Truth About Caster Semenya


I don’t see the support of people and the support of the truth as being an either/or proposition. And in most instances, the truth is a matter of perspective. Some people hear about the results of Caster Semenya’s gender testing and think that the truth is uncovered because the woman has neither womb nor ovaries but has undeveloped testes that are producing more testosterone than normal for the average woman and therefore she is not a one hundred percent female and therefore is unqualified to be competing with females. That is their truth. But for other people, the truth has yet to be determined.

According to a couple of Australian news reports, the results of the gender testing mandated from the International Association of Athletics Foundation have determined that Ms. Semenya is not quite right. But in all honestly, she hasn’t been determined to be all wrong. For many people, the truth is that Ms. Semenya suffers from a birth defect. It is an unfortunate circumstance for a number of females throughout human history.

The truth is that there are experts that say Ms. Semenya should be allowed to race as a woman. According to experts like Dr. Myron Genel, a professor emeritus of pediatrics at Yale University, and Dr. Louis Elsas, chairman of biochemistry at the University of Miami, and Dr. Joe Leigh Simpson, past president of the American College of Medical Genetics, the truth is that Ms. Semenya is a female with a birth defect. The whole matter is as simple as that. All three of these doctors are members of the panel of experts convened by the IAAF back in 1990 that helped to frame the standards for genetic gender testing.

According to these doctors, the concern that women with XY chromosomes have a competitive advantage is not true. According to Dr. Simpson, any elite athlete has a competitive advantage. Otherwise why would they bother becoming an athlete? Dr. Simpson believes that the issue should be limited to simply determining whether men are masquerading as women. And it is Dr. Simpson’s opinion that Ms. Semenya is clearly a woman. The truth is that a woman with the Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome means that she doesn’t respond to testosterone. It also means that she doesn’t have a competitive advantage from having an XY chromosome. And that’s the truth.

With that in mind we have to be careful not to jump to any inconclusive conclusions. Although the results may appear to be definitive, the truth is that they really aren’t. More often than not things are much more complex than they appear. When it comes to the dealings of the human community, things are rarely as simple as black and white.

In many respects, the case involving Ms. Semenya’s gender is not even close to being a certain conclusion. If anything, it’s just starting. And while I support the search for the truth, I continue to support Ms. Semenya in this ordeal. While people continue to write Ms. Semenya off as some freak of nature, I will continue to support her as a young female in the black community. Her gender was already answered when she was given approval to run with other women. While other people are happy to dissect her and put her personal business out there for all to see in a so called search for truth, the truth is we are heading into uncharted territory.

If we allow the truth to be told we would admit that there are a ton of things that we simply don’t understand about this entire affair. To think that we can sit back and allow others to make the determination as to what constitutes femininity or masculinity means we allow ourselves to sit back and allow others make the definition as to what it means to be human. There’s nothing wrong with adding our own voice to the conversation. We should be allowed to agree. We should be allowed to disagree. But whatever we decide, we should make our decision in the search for all the truths and not just the ones that support our perceptions of what we have predetermined to be the truth.

Sunday, September 13, 2009 - Posted by | African Americans, Black Community, Black Culture, Black People, Caster Semenya, Life, Racism, Thoughts


  1. I read the article last night stating that having AIS would explicitly reject any claims of competitive adavantage, and that elite athletes have a competitive advantage (otherwise they wouldn’t be elite) for different reasons. And I was going to say something today, and yet, again, you beat me to the punch…

    I read also that a case like this caused a female athlete to kill herself (or attempt to) because of the public coming out of the AIS in her case.

    Comment by Mike Lovell | Monday, September 14, 2009 | Reply

  2. Thanks for the feedback Mike Lovell,

    “…you beat me to the punch…”

    It comes from the competitive advantage of living in an earlier time zone.


    Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Monday, September 14, 2009 | Reply

  3. Dont you live in the central time zone like me? Maybe you get a few minutes leap being slightly farther east than I… either way I’m reporting you to the international blogging association to have you tested!! 😉

    Comment by Mike Lovell | Monday, September 14, 2009 | Reply

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