My daughter asked me this morning about Caster Semenya and it didn’t make me afraid.
I didn’t feel afraid that if I talked about this famously intersex athlete that somehow my daughter would become frightened and confused about the world she lives in.
When my daughter asked me whether Caster was a man or a woman and what testosterone meant, I simply told her.
I said she is a woman but she was born intersex, which means she has some organs associated with a man – in her case, internal testes that produce testosterone.
LISTEN: Kate de Brito takes a measured approach to Caster Semenya on the Mamamia Out Loud podcast. (Post continues…)
I told her that although women also produce testosterone, it is primarily a male hormone. It affects muscle size and strength. In other words, it plays a part in what makes men stronger and faster than women.
We had a look at some photos of her.
“She does look a bit like a man,” my daughter said.
Yes she does, but then women come in all shapes and sizes. Some women are very muscular, particularly athletes. But she is a woman and she’s racing in a woman’s race at the Olympics, but because she has higher quantities of testosterone than most women, people are questioning whether she should be racing.
— Pieter Howes (@PieterHowes) August 13, 2016
“Should she? Is that fair?”
“Well I think she should. But that’s what people are discussing and why this is in the news at the moment.”
After that we talked a little bit about about how being born intersex is probably not the easiest life and certainly hasn’t been for Caster who says she has been “subjected to unwarranted and invasive scrutiny of the most intimate and private details of my being.”