by Hanna Rosin
Something strange is happening around Caster Semenya, the South African running champion who is accused of being too mannish to run in women's races. In South Africa, she got a hero (heroine's?) welcome yesterday. "Our Golden Girl," read the signs at the airport, and her rags to riches story is getting repeated as an inspiration for young girls.
In the West, meanwhile, suspicion lingers. Gregg Doyel, of CBS Sports called Renee Richards, who was born a man but had a sex change operation. In 1977, the New York State Supreme Court ruled that Richards could compete as a professional women's tennis player. Even Richards said that Semanya should not be allowed to compete as a woman, because excess testosterone gave her an unfair advantage.
So, to recap, South Africans are embracing a sexually ambiguous, possibly intersex woman while we are adhering to very rigid, chemically-based definitions of gender. Given all that we've heard about the abuse of women in Africa, this is surprising, no?