As Ms Semenya and I are not related, in a relationship, and I am not on her medical team; I have absolutely no need or right to know her medical details.
And it is none of my business whatsoever.
I should not be bombarded with medical details about her internal organs -details either real, rumored or speculated- when I switch on my telly or open my e-mail.
I just shouldn't know anything at all about her medical condition unless she says it is OK.
That I even know there has been speculation is wrong, wrong, WRONG.
It is a huge invasion of her privacy. Invasion on -quite literally- a global scale. And whichever persons at the IAAF and other organizations who are responsible for (grossly mis-)managing this debacle and leaking information should be made an example and jailed for a long time.
A person's gender is probably the most deeply-held aspect of their identity. More than their name or their immediate family, a person's perceived gender is a huge key to who they are. And indeed to how the world interacts with them. Ask anyone with a gender identity disorder, or indeed anyone who cross-dresses for work or play, and they will tell you that they feel, act, walk, talk and are treated very differently depending on which gender they are projecting at a given time.
And if you speak to any transexual or cross-gender person who has had to deal with being "outed" in public, you will understand that many people out in the world -especially men, have a very, very, very difficult time comprehending and dealing with ambiguous gender. In fact, many men seem to feel threatened and will respond with hatred and violence. I have seen this reaction firsthand: When I was younger, a couple of my friends were tranvestites (i.e. a person who dresses the the clothes of the opposite sex. Two of my friends were men who dressed as women. One was actually pre-op transsexual). I saw how men could switch from sexual interest in my friends to outright screaming hostility (maybe feeling that their own gender was somehow threatened?) in the blink of an eye. It was quite scary to witness.
I can't imagine what it would be like to live.
I believe that the very poor handling of Ms Semenya's case may actually put her life in danger. Some people have speculated that news like this may put her in danger of deep depression and of taking her own life. And while I see their point, I somehow doubt she would off herself. She seems too centered for that.
I feel the greater threat to her life may come from third parties; from people who feel they were somehow deceived or cheated by Ms Semenya simply being who she is and doing what she was obviously born to do. This threat is larger, more diffuse and much more difficult to defend against.
And even worse: she comes from South Africa, from a place where people are often considered cursed or "bad luck" because they are different. A place where Albinos face discrimination and marginalization. And now Ms Semenya -who is only 18- has this great big DIFFERENCE" question mark over her head. And even if time proves this to be a big red herring, you can't un-ring the bell on this stuff. She will forever have to prove herself. As she now a high-profile person with a potentially rare difference, who lives on a continent where albinos and some others with differences are killed and their body parts sold for superstisious reasons, can the IAAF, who originally started this whole mess, now guarantee her safety?
No. I thought not. Like I said, Someone should be locked up for this.
Elizabeth at Screw Bronze wrote about the Semenya case recently, making the point that male athletes are not subjected to the kind of degrading scrutiny of their gender as females are. And she is right.
But rather than focus on the inequities of gender (which are rampant). I feel that really this case is about medical privacy. Here in the US. a person's medical records are protected by law. By law, a person has a right to their own medical file. Doctors are not allowed -by LAW, to share a patient's medical details with anyone unless the patient OKs it first. I think there are fuzzy areas with minors and people who are not capable of giving consent -say if they are in a coma. But overall, the rules are pretty clear. And Ms Semenya is neither a minor nor in a coma. She is perfectly able to assign or withdraw consent to share her medical history.
But was consent sought and given? I seriously doubt it.I don't know much about medical laws in other countries -or indeed about international athletics. But I know right from wrong.
..and this is all wrong.
Wrong in so many ways and on so may levels that I can barely comprehend the wrongness of it all. In fact. I think we may need a whole new scale to measure "wrong" based on this incident.
In the end it boils down to this: I know too much about a South African stranger. I should NEVER know about a person's sexual organs unless that person says it's OK for me to know.
And Caster Semenya didn't give me permission to know.
That's the bottom line.