South African athlete Caster Semenya, who identifies as a female, apparently doesn’ t have external male genitalia but has, in lieu of ovaries, undescended testicles that produce a significant amount of testosterone, the news media are reporting.
I’m no geneticist, but it seems to me that if you have testicles at all, you very most likely possess the male — XY — chromosomes.
Which makes you, biologically, a male, regardless of what is or is not between your legs — and regardless of whether you identify as a male or a female.
Therefore, Semenya’s biologically female competitors are correct — if Semenya possesses the XY chromosomes — that Semenya is a biological male.
Whether or not biological males and biological females should be allowed to compete against each other in athletics is an argument for another time. But if we accept that sex-based athletic segregation is appropriate, and Semenya is a biological male, then Semenya should not be allowed to compete against biological females. No argument.
In any case, Semenya’s reported internal testicles aside, does Semenya not look like a male?
Associated Press photos
Semenya has no breasts at all. I’m no physician, but this indicates to me that Semenya has little to no estrogen coursing through her veins. But her biologically female competitors presumably do have significant amounts of estrogen circulating within them. Whether or not it’s testosterone or estrogen that is predominant in one’s bloodstream would make a huge difference in athletic ability, it seems to me.
If Semenya wants to identify as a female, that’s fine with me; I’ll then consider Semenya to be a female.
But in the world of competitive athletics, someone possessing the XY chromosomes and a shitload of testosterone has an unfair advantage over those who possess the female (XX) chromosomes and are fueled by estrogen.
And I just can’t believe that I’ve gone this long without making a crack about the name “Semenya” in a post about someone with undescended testicles.
And I needed to write this in order to prove that I am able to write about a topic other than “Joe” Wilson. And I’ll stop now before I start commenting on his testicles.
P.S. The term “hermaphrodite” is misleading, so I don’t use it to describe Semenya. It is, to my knowledge, impossible to possess both testicles and ovaries; you have one or the other, regardless of what your external genitalia look like. It certainly is impossible to possess both reproductively functioning male and female reproductive organs. Even the term “intersex” I am not crazy about, because, again, regardless of what is or is not between your legs, you possess the XY or the XX chromosomes, not something in between, certain chromosomal abnormalities notwithstanding.