Famous Intersexuals in the Black Community and the Challenges They FaceMar 30, 2022 11:00AM ● By Jessica Uchechi Nwanguma
Caster Semenya, Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
Out of 7.7 billion in the world today, about 1.7℅ of them were born with Intersex traits.
For now, there is no data to show how many Black people are born with Intersex traits, but it's interesting to know that this condition, irrespective of race or gender, is not as rare as many think it is.
According to MedlinePlus, Intersex is a group of conditions in which there is a discrepancy between the external genitals and the internal genitals. The older term for this condition is hermaphroditism.
Being Intersex is distinct from a person's gender identity or sexual orientation; it relates to biological sex characteristics, meaning that an Intersex person may be gay, straight, lesbian, bisexual etc.
This has led many to ask,
What Does Intersex Look Like?
As you go about your daily activity, it is possible you have met an Intersexual person without recognising them, and this is because not every Intersex person is visibly different. But some traits are common with people living with the Intersex condition,
And they are:
A clitoris that is larger than expected.
A penis that is smaller than expected.
No vaginal opening
A labia that resembles a scrotum.
A scrotum that is empty and resembles a labia.
A penis without a Urethra opening at the tip, the opening might be on the underside.
In some cases, baby genitalia may also look wholly male or female, and the condition may not be known until puberty when the body produces more of the hormone that doesn't match their assigned sex.
Over the years, there has been much stigma surrounding the Intersex community; many celebrities, significantly athletes, have been affected.
Read about Pansexuality:
Representation matters and that means including everyone who makes up the LGBTQIA+ community. Learn more about pansexuality and the Black celebs who identify with the term. Read More »
Here Are Famous Black Intersexuals and the Challenges They Face
1. Caster Semenya:
Caster is a South African middle-distance runner, a winner of two Olympic gold medals and three World Championships in the women's 800 meters.
Caster was born a woman, raised a woman and still identifies as a woman.
But the discovery was made in 2009, following an 800m World Champion win that changed her life forever: 18-year-old Semenya was forced into taking a medical test to “prove” her gender.
Semenya went for the test, but then, The Australian Daily Telegraph leaked a story claiming that the Olympic champion had no womb or ovaries but internal testes due to a very rare chromosomal abnormality.
This report was never confirmed (the test is confidential, and her testosterone levels have not been disclosed); Caster has never publicly identified as an Intersex.
But the story seems believable since the CAS (Court of Arbitration for Sports) ruling applies to her.
According to CAS, the DSD (Difference in Sex Development) regulations require athletes who want to compete in some female events, who have XY chromosomes and in whom testosterone has a biological effect of reducing their natural testosterone levels to an agreed concentration (below five nmol/L).
Semenya challenged the rule in the Court of Arbitration of Sport, arguing it was discriminatory towards athletes with DSDs and written specifically to keep her from competing given the narrow range of distances it impacted.
A three-judge CAS panel ruled against Semenya in May 2019. She unsuccessfully appealed the decision to the Swiss Federal Tribunal, Switzerland’s highest court that oversees CAS.
Semenya has vowed not to suppress her naturally elevated levels of testosterone to qualify for her race, stating
'God made me the way I am, and I accept myself.'
Meanwhile, Lia Thomas, a transgender woman, won an NCAA Division National championship (in women's category)
Lia's victory has sparked many conversations on racism and misogyny against Black women.
"If Lia, a transgender woman, was allowed to participate in a Women's Category sports as a woman, why is the likes of Caster Semenya not free to run under female category since she was born and has identified as a woman all her life?"
Read more about Caster Semenya:
2. Sean Saifa Wall:
When Sean Saifa Wall was 13 years old, he was admitted to the hospital with pain in his groin; doctors didn’t discuss different options for treatment with him. He was only told that his testes had to be removed immediately.
In Saifa's words,
“I remember before surgery, I asked the nurse what was going on, and she was saying that I had these gonads that needed to be removed. I’m 13, I don’t know what gonads are.” The nurse told Saifa that it was because “they’re not good”.
Saifa has androgen-insensitivity syndrome (AIS), thought to affect between one and five in every 100,000 people. He has XY (typically male) chromosomes, but the receptors in his body that respond to male sex hormones don’t work fully. Saifa’s body developed with male characteristics, such as testes in his abdomen. He also developed some female features, including breasts, when he was eight.
Saifa is not the only person in his family with AIS, six of his family members have AIS and three identify as females having undergone surgeries in childhood to remove their testes. “That was the protocol of the time,” Saifa says, but somehow he was spared.
Even within his family, there is shame and stigma. On one occasion, his Uncle forced him to sleep outside on the porch of his home after surgery.
Saifa served as president of Interact Advocates for Intersex Youth for three years; in 2015, he joined an international advisory board for the first philanthropic Intersex Human Rights Fund established by the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice.
3. Annet Negesa:
A young woman named Annet from Iganga, a small village in eastern Uganda had so many dreams and aspirations. She seemed set for life when she was given ‘Athlete of the Year’ by the Uganda Athletics Federation, but the dream was cut short.
A year before she was given the award, 19-year-old Negasa travelled to Daegu in South Korea for the 2011 World Championships.
After securing a top-three spot in the 800 meters and 1500 meter categories in four international competitions, Annet Negasa qualified to represent her country at the 2012 London Olympics.
Unliike other participants, Negasa submitted to blood tests; this was a requirement of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF, now known as World Athletics) for all athletes competing that year.
But according to Negesa, she never received her test results.
In July, Negasa was preparing for the final stage of the 2012 London Olympics competition, when she got a call from her manager, informing her that she could no longer compete at the Olympics.
According to her Manager, her blood samples revealed levels of the hormone testosterone in her blood. The IAAF considered it too high and recommended her for further tests.
Negasa headed to a specialist hospital in the south of France, the name of which was provided by the IAAF. She underwent a medical assessment that involved a further blood test and an MRI scan.
In November 2012, she was taken to the Women’s Hospital International and Fertility Centre in Kampala, Uganda, where the then 20-year-old woke up from surgery to learn her internal testes had been removed; she could not understand what had happened, no one had informed her of the consequences either.
Negesa understood that she was being treated for hyperandrogenism, the naturally high levels of testosterone her body produced, but she never consented to surgery of any kind.
In her own words, “They gave me a suggestion of going for simple surgery or using an injection to remove the excessive testosterone in the body. My suggestion was using the injection.”
A medical report seen by CNN states that the doctors in Uganda “restrained from starting her on estrogen therapy,” claiming that they were “awaiting further discussions” with an IAAF doctor.
A claim IAAF has firmly denied, they insist on not intervening in Annet Negasa’s treatment.
Negasa was supposed to be placed on estrogen 'replacement' therapy, but she was never. In its absence, she suffered multiple issues affecting most body systems.
Due to a lack of aftercare, Negesa’s body could not perform as it once did. She lost her university scholarship, and then her manager dropped her.
Negasa insists that she was treated like a guinea pig, she could not cope in Uganda, where she faced public scrutiny for her sex; this made her fall into depression.
In 2019, Negasa was granted asylum by the German government.
Can Intersex People Get Pregnant, Impregnate Someone, or Self Impregnate?
The answer is: an intersex woman can get pregnant if she has a fully functional vagina and a uterus; an intersex man can impregnate a woman if he has a fully functional testes producing sperm.
But an Intersex person can not impregnate themselves; for that to occur, they have to have both well-developed testes and ovaries or ovotestes. Since such cases hardly exist there is no possibility of self-impregnation.
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