Inter-sex and Sports - Honor and Shame
All hell broke loose in August for Semenya, the South African athlete who won the 800 m event at the IAAF games. Laboratory tests revealed that she was more a ‘male’ than a female and her clinical tests proved that she had internal testes and that the uterus was non existent. She was also being accused of having benefited from her ‘maleness’. Her sexual possibilities were publicly discussed and she was subjected to severe mental agony and has, since the episode, gone into hiding.
Another case is that of Shanthi Soundararajan, a talented athlete from Tamil Nadu, India. Till 2006, everything was going well for her and the world seemed at her feet after she won an international event. But then all hell broke loose when it was revealed that she genotypically differed from the typical female and that there was more maleness in her than the rest of the species.
Shanthi was subjected to public scrutiny with the media going overboard, discussing sordid details, and speculating about her ‘true’ gender. As the final act of ignominy she was stripped of her medal which she had earlier received with great fanfare. It came as little surprise that Shanthi attemped suicide.
Both the talented athletes, Semenya and Shanthi, are inter-sex individuals.