ColumnistsVogue Williams

It’s not nice when your privates are a global debate

Vogue WilliamsBy Vogue Williams
Caster Semanya
Caster Semanya

WATCHING any type of sport has never been my thing and I have never been one to follow the Olympics.

However, this year the controversy that seemed to surround it on a daily basis caught my attention.

Aside from tickets, doping, disgraced American swimmers and dodgy refereeing decisions it was the storm around Caster Semenya, the South African runner who won gold in the 800m race, that caught my eye.

It’s Caster’s gender that has come under fire, with many speculating she is intersex – meaning she was born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit in the typical definitions of a female or a male.

She even underwent gender testing to prove she is eligible to race as a woman.

It is the unusual amount of testosterone in Caster’s body that people are concerned about. Her speed and strength are associated with the amount of testosterone she has running through her veins and not the intense training regime she has been under over the last four years.

She has a very high level of testosterone, which some deem unfair in a women’s race.

To say I feel sorry for Caster in an understatement, as her private parts have become a global debate without Caster herself ever saying she is or isn’t intersex.

The participation of transgender and intersex athletes in the Olympics has been a massive debate for years. It shows how inequality is still a major struggle within the trans community, even when it comes to sports.

It’s only since 2003 that trans people were finally allowed to compete in the Olympic Games, but under strict rules and regulations set out by the International Olympics Committee.

These rules are discrimination at its finest, as the athlete must have had hormone replacement therapy for two years before the competition.

Their gender must be changed legally and the most ridiculous rule of all is that they must have had genital reconstructive surgery.

Not all trans people see genital surgery as part of their journey, but if you want to compete in the Olympics this is something you will have no choice in.

Not only is Caster being humiliated, she is also being discriminated against, as well as being bullied by other athletes who see her as a threat.

This is a woman who trained and pushed here body to the absolute limit to achieve her Olympic gold, but all anyone wants to know is what gender she is. She is a female, competing in a female competition; to me there is no more to say on the subject – other than to congratulate her on her win.

Having your private parts become a global debate is humiliating


Brave rose Brianna deserves our praise

I think the Rose of Tralee is a guilty pleasure for lots of us. I doubt a soul outside of Ireland would understand the programme, but I love it!

I think my favourite part of this year’s programme was definitely Sydney Rose Brianna Parkins (right), who raised the topic of the Eighth Amendment.

She said: “I think we can do better here in Ireland. I think it is time to give women a say on their own reproductive rights.

“I would love to see a referendum on the Eighth coming up soon. That would be my dream.”

I think you are a dream, Brianna, to use the platform of the Rose of Tralee for a great cause. RTE got a total of 16 complaints from people (dinosaurs), so there is now a petition with 1,300 signatures to formally thank Brianna.

I would also like to use my column to thank her. Let’s make the vote on the Eighth Amendment happen Ireland.


A fab party for RTE pals

I was home on Monday for the RTE Autumn launch. My show On The Edge is part of the schedule and I got to see some of it for the first time, which was exciting.

They have so many great shows coming up and I particularly liked the look of the health service documentary, Keeping Ireland Alive. It looks amazing, so check that out tomorrow.

The day itself was lots of fun, as I got to see a lot of people I hadn’t seen in ages and it was great to catch up. I also got pictures with everyone – I love Miriam O’Callaghan, so made sure to get some snaps with her. Ryan Tubridy is so funny and I love catching up with him as well.

I wore a gorgeous dress from The Ivory Closet with my Buffalo shoes and got my hair done by Matthew Feeney. He gave me a long bob and I love it!


Charity free fall just fantastic

I never thought I would do a skydive in my life – I’ve just never had the desire to throw myself out of a plane!

That was until Skoda asked me to do one for Dogs Trust. They are great supporters of the charity and we managed to raised €5,000. The money will go towards feeding rescued puppies for six months.

The skydive itself was so much fun and I actually didn’t feel scared or nervous at all – at least until we were 13,000 feet up in the air and about to jump out! It was only when the doors opened that I started to feel a little bit scared.

I did a tandem jump so I was attached to an instructor; I very much doubt I will ever do a jump on my own! It was such a strange feeling to free fall, and it was quite difficult to breathe. I really enjoyed the jump and I will probably skydive again, but I may take a little break for now.

I ended up doing the jump with two competition winners and my friend Sinead, she was actually only coming down to see me, but then one of the winners didn’t show up so she got to do the jump as well.