The XX Factor

Did Caster Semenya Know that She Was Intersex?

It has been reported that Caster Semenya is a “hermaphrodite.” The South African runner thoroughly dominated her opponents in recent races, and because of her masculine appearance, she was forced to submit to a battery of gender tests . According to the Times of London , “the 18-year-old had internal testes and no womb or ovaries.” They also note that the situation is delicate for the athletic association brass because of Semenya’s high profile.

But they fail to mention how delicate the situation must be for Semenya herself. Did she know she was intersex before she was forced to submit to these tests? Pap smears are rare in South Africa, and Semenya is only 18, so it’s unclear how thorough her doctor’s appointments would have been in her youth. If she really did find out because of this investigation, how awful to experience the revelation in front of an international audience.

Photograph of Caster Semenya by Franck Fife/AFP/Getty Images.