The Caster Semeya Issue and Gender Testing For AIS

Warning: Graphic images

Finding the answer for the Caster Semenya issue may not be as on the surface as an adam’s apple. Actually, the situation could teach us more about ourselves.

What is Androgen insensitivity syndrome (AIS)?:

Androgen insensitivity syndrome (AIS), formerly known as testicular feminization, is an X-linked recessive condition resulting in a failure of normal masculinization of the external genitalia in chromosomally male individuals. This failure of virilization can be either complete androgen insensitivity syndrome (CAIS) or partial androgen insensitivity syndrome (PAIS), depending on the amount of residual receptor function.

Both individuals with partial androgen insensitivity syndrome and individuals with complete androgen insensitivity syndrome have 46,XY karyotypes. Individuals with complete androgen insensitivity syndrome have female external genitalia with normal labia, clitoris, and vaginal introitus.1,2,3 The phenotype of individuals with partial androgen insensitivity syndrome may range from mildly virilized female external genitalia (clitorimegaly without other external anomalies) to mildly undervirilized male external genitalia (hypospadias and/or diminished penile size).
In either case, affected individuals have normal testes with normal production of testosterone and normal conversion to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which differentiates this condition from 5-alpha reductase deficiency. Because the testes produce normal amounts of müllerian-inhibiting factor (MIF), also known as müllerian-inhibiting substance (MIS) or anti-müllerian hormone/factor (AMH/AMF), affected individuals do not have fallopian tubes, a uterus, or a proximal (upper) vagina.

Penoscrotal hypospadias is shown. Note the associated ventral chordee and true urethral meatus located at the scrotal level.

All patients with androgen insensitivity syndrome are chromosomally and gonadally male. However, separating the concepts of sex and gender is crucial with these patients. The term sex is usually based on physical attributes, whereas the concept of gender is based on an individual’s self-concept and self-identification as well as the role an individual assumes in society.

Most patients with complete androgen insensitivity syndrome have a female gender. This may be due, in part, to the patient’s role assignment and upbringing before the diagnosis or to the patient’s choice of female “sex/gender” at diagnosis. The significance of the androgen effect’s absence is increasingly recognized for its influence on the maturing brain (and other systems) in terms of developing adult gender identity.

Partial androgen insensitivity syndrome is a more complicated problem for gender identity. Just as the genitalia may be highly varied in the degree of virilization, gender identity may be either female or male. At present, no reliable predictors of eventual gender identity have been identified, including genotype or degree of genital virilization at birth.


Caster Semenya and The “YoYo”…Question: Man or Woman?

Track and Field’s Sex Test History Before Caster Semenya


7 thoughts on “The Caster Semeya Issue and Gender Testing For AIS

  1. Gerade beim herumstoebern im Netz bin ich auf einmal auf deinem Blog gelandert. Und jetzt komme ich nicht mehr wirklich weg weil mir die Artikel welche du geschrieben hast richtig zu sagen. Sind schoen interessant geschrieben so das man sie gerne liet.

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