Caster's Sex Is 1 In 500 For South Africa
Media Statement Gender DynamiX 10 September 2009
Caster's gender is female, says Robert Hamblin chairperson of SA Transgender organisation Gender DynamiX. In the light of the Caster Semenya furore, media has been grappling with the difference between sex and gender. Sex is what the body dictates and gender is how people express themselves on the continuum between male and female. Therefore if Semenya feels that her gender is female we have to respect that expression on a social level.
Earlier today information was leaked to the world media that tests Semenya was subjected to have revealed that she has an intersex condition. Intersex is often referred to by the layman as hermaphrodite. The correct terminology according to international and local Intersex organisations is intersex. An estimated 1 in 500 South Africans are born with some form of intersexuality.* This means a person's biological sex is ambiguous.
Semenya's condition should now be respected as a private matter. The IAAF and the ASA should not withdraw their support of her, but help her to plan her career from here. The IAAF has very clear regulations on how to deal with Intersex competitors, protecting their privacy in this process being one of their rules. This is an opportunity for South Africans and the world to continue to support an outstanding athlete and an individual who has overcome so many obstacles to her success says Robert Hamblin.
It is not unusual for intersexuality to only be discovered in adulthood, especially in rural areas where access to quality health care is hard to come by. We should understand that Caster's diagnosis was a complicated process. The IAAF has clear regulations regarding athletes with intersexuality. Their concern is to establish whether the specifics of the condition gives the athlete an unfair advantage, and does not concern itself with the athlete's gender.
It's clear that Semenya did not cheat, but that she has a biological condition. The fact that a condition like intersexuality exists, reveals that sexual identity is more diverse than we imagined. Beyond the body, gender expression is about what we wear and how we behave. Says Sally-Jean Shackleton Gender DynamiX board member and director of Women'sNet.
South African law acknowledges and respects the concept of gender expression not being a fixed notion. Gender Dynamix is an organisation that deals with expression of sex and gender on a daily basis and we appeal to the media and the public to respect Semenya's privacy and the human rights of all South Africans. We are human first before gender, race, class or creed.
Contact: Liesl Theron 083 320-7691 Executive Director Gender DynamiX
Or Robert Hamblin 083 226-4683
* http://www.intersex.org.za/faqgeneral.html (Intersex Society of South Africa)