Semenya, who identifies and competes as female, is admittedly a special case. “She” is not a transgender and has had no kind of chemical surgery. Semenya was born with male XY chromosomes (females are XX) and the testosterone levels of a male. By her own admission “she” has no uterus or fallopian tubes and does not menstruate. Her condition is popularly described as “intersex.” She runs and wins medals as a female athlete.
Golodryga and Amanpour’s producers bypassed the inconvenient biological truths, cynically using Semenya’s case to leverage acceptance of biological males competing in female sports. The host wholly skipped the chromosome factor, an unchangeable trait that marks out Semenya as a biological male. Then again, science is not the strong suit of the transgender lobby.
(Semenya’s new book has been hailed in the usual left-wing quarters.)
Golodryga: Well, now, when we talk about gender, sports is often on the front line. But while the debate frequently becomes a binary, the truth is often far more nuanced. No one exemplifies this more clearly than Caster Semenya. The extraordinary South African athlete has won two Olympic gold medals for the 800 meters. But she also has found herself as the subject of a very toxic debate surrounding her very own identity. For a year, she was forced to take hormones to lower her natural testosterone levels. Well, now she's telling her story in her new memoir, The Race to Be Myself….Athletes, you have an innate sense to fight, but you fight on the field, you fight in your sport, you fight when you're racing, and you're fighting against your competitors. In your case, though, you were fighting behind the scenes as well, and it started at a very young age. You describe in the book, when you were just 18, you faced your first gender test, and you talk about what you thought was a doping test that ended up being a gender test on the rest day before the biggest race in your life. Can you talk to us about that moment, and how violating that must have felt at such a very young age in your life and in your career?
Semenya basically admitted she wasn’t a biological woman.
Semenya: ….For me, those who don't know, you know, the differences in my body, I'm born a woman, but I'm a woman with, no uterus, no fallopian tube. I don't go through menstruation and stuff like that….I have high elevated testosterone, but it does not really play a role in my training or role in my performances….
High testosterone has undoubtedly played a role in Semenya’s achievements.
The host fawned.
Golodryga: And you're so poised. I mean, it's unfortunate that it's taken your own experience and your negative experience to come out on the other side and to talk about it in such a way as to be useful for others….
She would not stop gushing over her stunning, brave, etc. guest.
Golodryga: ….So, Caster, I do want to thank you, for taking the time to speak to us, for speaking to other athletes who may find themselves in similar situations like yours to let them know that they are not alone and we really do look forward to seeing what is next. And congratulations for all of your achievements thus far.
“Similar situations like yours” is code for biological males competing in women’s sports.
The encomiums continued into the next segment:
Golodryga: Well, speaking of heroes, in South Africa's sport, the national rugby team is back home after a triumphant win at the World Cup in France….
“Hero” has certainly become a downgraded word.
A transcript is available, click “Expand.”
Amanpour & Co.
GOLODRYGA: Well, now, when we talk about gender, sports is often on the front line. But while the debate frequently becomes a binary, the truth is often far more nuanced. No one exemplifies this more clearly than Caster Semenya. The extraordinary South African athlete has won two Olympic gold medals for the 800 meters. But she also has found herself as the subject of a very toxic debate surrounding her very own identity.
For a year, she was forced to take hormones to lower her natural testosterone levels. Well, now she's telling her story in her new memoir "The Race to Be Myself." And raising questions about how we debate natural abilities. Caster Semenya joins me now from Los Angeles.
Caster, thank you so much for joining us. Congratulations on the book. You know, the timing of the book, given that your career has spanned decades now has raised questions as to why you felt now was the time to tell your story. I want to read a bit from the book, "I have never spoken about it in detail, about what happened during this time of my life, but now, I am ready to do so." Why is now the time?
CASTER SEMENYA. AUTHOR, "THE RACE TO BE MYSELF" AND OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST: Good morning. I think now is the time because (INAUDIBLE) I think I've grown into sports, but I think the most important thing is that we need to start growing women's sports. We need to start understanding the worth of women in sports and their abilities. I think for me, it's all about fighting for what is right for women, the equality, inclusivity, and the diverse. I think I'll say, yes, I'm ready, emotionally, psychologically. Yes. Within, I say I'm fulfilled. And now, I think it's the right time for us as women to take over and make sure that we protect our own.
GOLODRYGA: Athletes, you have an innate sense to fight, but you fight on the field, you fight in your sport, you fight when you're racing, and you're fighting against your competitors. In your case, though, you were fighting behind the scenes as well, and it started at a very young age. You describe in the book, when you were just 18, you faced your first gender test, and you talk about what you thought was a doping test that ended up being a gender test on the rest day, before the biggest race in your life. Can you talk to us about that moment, and how violating that must have felt at such a very young age in your life and in your career?
SEMENYA: Yes. I think it was a life changing story because here you are, you're 18 years of age, and then you're asked if you're not women enough, and you're entire, you know, childhood, you have been a woman. Yes, regardless of the differences that you have in your body. But I think for me, what I had to turn around was like the humiliation, you know, the injustice and people treating me with no respect. For me, I had to just carry myself and knowing what I stand for. I think the importance for me it was knowing who I am, my identity and carry that, you know, to represent my country. And, you know, that was a miscalculation, you know, from IWF then because they thought, for them, doing what they did to me, it will distract me. It will stop me from loving the sports, you know, I'm doing. And that was wrong. And they need to understand that they need to start respecting, you know, young women and respecting women's sports and they should stop regulating women's sports. They should let women decide what is right for women.
But I'll say, it has grown me, it has built me to be the person I am. Now, I understand, you know, principles of life. I understand how to treat people with respect. But then, I know the right of being. I'll say, yes, it did build me and I'm happy to be where I am today.
GOLODRYGA: For those that don't know your story, you mentioned the differences in your body. Can you talk about that?
SEMENYA: Yes, of course. For me, those who don't know, you know, the differences in my body, I'm born a woman, but I'm a woman with, you know, no uterus, you know, no fallopian tube. I don't go through menstruation and stuff like that. I have a condition, you know, with, you know, DSD, which, yes, I'm different, but it don't make me less a woman. I have, you know, high elevated testosterone, but it does not really play a role in my training or a role in my performances. It's just that one of those things we say it may be a disorder, but I think through my hard work, I am here where I am because of, you know, dedication, hard work, you know, discipline and all those things, but then it's considered a threat to a man, you know, sports because when women does great, it becomes a problem.
But when a man does good, they are phenomenal. But genetically, it's something that you can say you cannot control it.
GOLODRYGA: And you talk about what you were forced to do to be able to compete.
GOLODRYGA: And that is the testosterone reducing drugs that you describe having a negative impact on your body. You know, people get tested for doping and get punished for putting chemicals and substances in their bodies. And yet, that's exactly what you were forced to do in order to be able to compete. Can you give us more insight into how that made you feel, physically?
SEMENYA: To be honest, I'll say it was hell because each and every day you live under stress. You're not happy within. You're never happy. And what you feel is that you makes -- it makes you feel sick, nauseous. You have panic attacks. It start creating, you know, a little bit of blood clots, you know, in your system. Your stomach is burning. You eat a lot. You can't sleep. You sweat a lot each and every day. I'll say, I'll not advise each and every -- you know, anyone out there to go through what I had to go through because it's like digging a hole that you can never fill up. You know, it's like you measure a casket and you get in and then you bury yourself. It was not easy. It was hard times, but I think through that I had to learn to know the difference between right and wrong. Know the right of being. Know my rights as a young girl.
And for now, we advocate for what is right. We fight this cause so it cannot happen to these young girls, that's hell, if I may say.
GOLODRYGA: And you're so poised. I mean, it's unfortunate that it's taken your own experience and your negative experience to come out on the other side and to talk about it in such a way as to be useful for others.
SEMENYA: Of course.
GOLODRYGA: You perhaps may be going through something similar and think that they are alone. You know, in the book, you talk about the world of athletics needing to clean up the sport for male and female athletes. And I'm wondering just the irony and, and your reaction to how it felt when, in 2017, it turned out that a Russian winner was actually doping, that went -- that Russian beat you in the London Olympics, and then was disqualified.
So, after all of this attention focused on you, to then have this happen, what was that moment like?
SEMENYA: I think for me, I would say, you know, when things are meant to be, they are meant to be. And regardless of, you know, the ban and then being upgraded for, you know, being Olympic champion or world champion, I think for me, it's more for start understanding the importance of, you know, cleaning the sports, the importance of making sure that, you know, people are aware of, you know, situations like this.
And looking into World Athletics, where they start talking about they want equality for women, which is, there is no equality, there is no level in the sports because it is specifically for, you know, certain women and you say you want what's, you know, good for women. And for me, yes, I'm a brigade upgraded, you know, I'm happy with the results, but the most important thing for me is that we stand here and make sure that each and
every individual is treated with respect, with dignity, you know, humanity. It's most important in sports and we need to teach the sportsmanship within us as women, you know.
But for me, I'll always, you know, advocate for what is right. I'll always question why women's sports, you understand, why is it that important for a man to want to regulate women's sports? Why is it not important to allow women to decide what is right for women's sports? Why is it that important for a man to want to justify himself? He wants to say, this is how women should look like, you understand?
SEMENYA: For me, I think if those things -- you know, we get to draw the line between men and women to start understanding that it's important for us as women to decide what is right for us I'll be fulfilled.
GOLODRYGA: Caster, on the issue of doping, I have to follow up with what World Athletics said to us in a statement, and they said, full-scale reforms were initiated by World Athletics President Sebastian Coe after his election in 2015, "The Independent Athletics Integrity Unit is seen as the gold standard in the world of sport and its anti-doping program has made a real and impactful difference in our sport." I don't want to spend time litigating that statement because I do want to talk about the role of gender in sports. You are not transgender, but as you know, this has become a very heated debate in the world of sports. I'm curious to get your take on this subject because we're hearing from many athletes who support and have different countering views as well.
SEMENYA: No, of course, I think this is a very, very important, you know, issue to be discussed. I'm not really good in terms of governance. I'm not really good in terms of regulation. But from my understanding, from someone who's different, I understand that things need to be, you know, taken seriously issues like this we need to sit down and try to iron out, you know, those differences. Each and every individual in this world has got the right of being, has got the right to compete in sports. But then in a situation like this, for us not to step on each other's toes I think it will be very important, you know, for world sports to start understanding that, you know, the inclusivity and diverse, making sure that each and every individual is respected, each and every individual is accepted, you know, to partake in sports. But like I said, now -- for now, I'm not really an expert in terms of regulating sports. I love trans people. They are my family. They are beautiful. I love them for who they are. I think -- I hope, you know, towards the end, you know, these situations will be resolved and each and every one, you know, will be able to take part -- you know, part in sports.
GOLODRYGA: Well, to conclude, we should let our viewers know in July the European Court of Human Rights ruled that you had been let down by the Swiss legal system in your battle against limits on testosterone levels for female athletes. So, Caster, I do want to thank you, for taking the time to speak to us, for speaking to other athletes who may find themselves in similar situations like yours to let them know that they are not alone and we really do look forward to seeing what is next.
SEMENYA: Thank you.
GOLODRYGA: And congratulations --
SEMENYA: I really appreciate it.
GOLODRYGA: -- for all of your achievements thus far.
SEMENYA: Thank you. Thank you very much. Stay blessed.
GOLODRYGA: Caster Semenya, thank you.
GOLODRYGA: Well, speaking of heroes, in South Africa's sport, the national rugby team is back home after a triumphant win at the World Cup in France, beating New Zealand by just one point. While now taking a victory lap around the nation, thousands of South Africans are lining the streets in celebration for a country plagued by poverty and inequality, this win really has boosted moral. Captain Siya Kolisi spoke of the significance on his return.