The debate about whether 18-year-old South African track star Caster Semenya is a man or a woman has been widely criticized as trivial and insensitive. When gender-verification tests determined Semenya to be intersex, the furor only intensified. She's "A Woman...And a Man," blared one headline. But a few columnists are arguing that Semenya's humiliation may serve a larger purpose: The incident has forced an uncomfortable debate about gender into the limelight in much the same manner that the Stonewall Riots did for homosexuality a generation ago.
- This Could End the Intersex Stigma, writes Joseph-Huff Hannon at the Daily Beast. He argues that Semenya has ushered in a potential "Stonewall moment" for the intersex movement, which desires the same things as earlier civil-rights struggles: mainstream acceptance, equality under the law, and the right to safely be "out." Also: they don't like to be called "hermaphrodites."
- A New Way to Think About Gender, Meghan Daum writes at The Los Angeles Times: "Society, in large part, has grown accustomed to thinking about race,
religion and even sexual identity in more than just binary terms --
recognizing that people may be black and white, Catholic and Buddhist, even transgender -- but being both sexes at once?"
- Oh Great, Another Rights Group!, huffs Maggie Gallagher at RealClearPolitics. "We live in an age where rights are multiplying like rabbits. Don't get me wrong: I like rabbits." She says the conflicting demands of gender-based human rights groups are hard to follow.
In Vermont, 16-year-old Kyle Giard-Chase marched over to the Vermont Human Rights Commission to demand the right to genderless bathrooms in public schools. Kyle is working with Outright Vermont, a social service organization for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth, which views unisex bathrooms as the next great civil rights revolution.
[...]Yet up in Maine, a genderless bathroom is not the human rights solution; it's the new . In a case decided last month, a biological boy in a grade school who identifies as a girl was given the option of using the faculty's unisex bathroom. Instead the child's parents went straight to Maine's , which ruled the child had the right to use the girls' bathroom, regardless of how uncomfortable it makes the girls feel.
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