Caster Semenya In YOU Magazine

By Sheril Kirshenbaum | September 9, 2009 12:49 am

ept_sports_oly_experts-919832433-1252434755.jpg800m world champion Caster Semenya–whose gender was questioned by athletic officials–has a new look on the cover of South Africa’s YOU magazine. While some may question her motivation, the decision isn’t all that surprising. Just like other celebrities, athletes are regularly dressed up and photographed in the popular press and this 18-year-old deserves to enjoy the limelight. Further, after reading her comments to the BBC, it seems that she holds a healthy perspective:

“I am who I am and I’m proud of myself.”

Ms Semenya..says she is not bothered by the negative publicity following her gold medal at the Berlin World Championships last month.

“I see it all as a joke, it doesn’t upset me. God made me the way I am and I accept myself,” she said.

Sounds like this woman has a good head on those strong shoulders. As I wrote yesterday, it’s often our very quirks and idiosyncrasies that make us uniquely beautiful. I hope Caster enjoys her victory.

MORE ABOUT: Caster Semenya

Comments (11)

  1. Ru Paul dresses in drag, but it doesn’t make him a woman. I hope Caster Semenya is a woman and can thus have the last laugh, but I can’t blame officials for wondering.

  2. I think SHE looks great! A lot of peole are so jealous of natural given talent and ability, they will stoop to anything to dismantle a young person’s dreams, even if it means cooking up some goofy tales of misplaced hormones. Remember we’re talking about South Africa, a country not known for it’s humanitarian/civil rights attributes, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.

  3. Blogger

    Madcap, that’s a shameful first sentence.

    What makes you think she’s not a woman? Her and her family would best know…not an outside glance.


    caster is a star, she is looking just beatiful, i wish she was my daughter

  5. Barry Seymour

    Shame on the human race!

    I often think that some journalists are the lowest form of salesman.

    Rather than appear to discriminate against individuals all female athlete competitors should be tested and proved ‘female’ as a matter of course at time of their application to register for a race.

    The treatment of Caster Semenya is despicable, insensitive and totally unacceptable… and then to broadcast her test results to the world, shocking!!!

  6. Carly

    It’s a sad commentary on “humanity” when a select group of people will go to such lengths to degrade another human being in such an unnecessary manner to prove a point. This woman entered the world, and all believed her to be female based on what can be seen with the naked eye. Now, because of her incredible accomplishments she must be subjected to tests, public humiliation and indignity to split hairs. So now it’s being reported she has male genitals inside, but an acceptable level of female characteristics. So, in the name of sport, this lynch mob is willing to throw her identity into question, and strip her of the medal she worked very hard to earn. You would think she tried to trick someone, which she didn’t. She entered the world as a girl, and no amount of tests will change her identity or her accomplishments. To the people who have pursued this matter in such an awful and public manner, you disgust me.

  7. Erasmussimo

    Our problem here is that the notion of gender is not black and white. There are people who are physiologically part male and part female. This raises all sorts of problems when we try to establish fair competitions. For example, the female pelvis is ill-suited to running; that’s why it really isn’t fair to pit males against females in running contests. The males will always win. But what happens when we pit a woman who is partly male against women who are fully female? Is that fair? I don’t know. I think that, at this point, we simply have no way of establishing anything that’s fair. Already we’re seeing athletics tainted by medications that can improve performance while imposing nasty side effects. So what happens when this process continues to its extreme, and someday in the distant future we end up awarding gold medals to genetic freaks who will shortly thereafter die of the side effects of the medications they took in order to win? If you don’t like that awful scenario, how do you draw a line against it?

  8. Johnny Wilson

    Mmmm….. what could put even more fuel on the fire of this Caster Semenya’s saga? How about a make-over??? I find it disgusting how the press exploit this issue. Shame on the South African politicians for making such a big an issue of this (it is after all the sixth IAAF gender test recently, but the only one we heard about), and shame on both the politicians and media for keeping this issue splashed on the covers of newspapers, magazines, and blogs. Who do they think they are for claiming this should be a private matter? There’s only one victim here.

  9. Me

    You know guys I just don’t know what to say….Do you think all the people you see in this world are what they are? what measures have been taken to prove who they are? If Caster became 7th in the competion, will all this arise…or it is because she won, what of men who come last, can’t you conduct a gender test to find out if they are women??? I am just not happy at all. what would you say to those who do high/long jump and have got very long legs, are they not physically advantageous to those who are short? CAnd who gives you the right to go and question what God has made? ok now that you have found what you were looking for, she has a talent and gift…how are you going to help her…do not tell me that it is the end of her carreer because the reasons you will give you yourselves have no control over….anyway I am just annoyed

  10. sophomore

    I think this is so ridiculous and so embarassing for her!!!!think about yourself how would you feel if someone said you are not what you say you are!!I acually would go totally mad!!!who has to care what I am!!I should be allowed to be what ever I want to be without any questioning about it!!!
    why do we even need to care about her. let her be what she is!!!if shes a woman fine and if shes biologically not a woman than fine too!!! cant everyone be who they wanna be!! she won the medal for her achievement so why bother with her gender!!
    I am so angy about this topic and so mad at the people who alway need stereotypes!!

  11. theCrusher

    If I were one of the other women racing with Semenya I would be preparing to sue the tournament for allowing a male-female (Semenya) to compete with female-females. There is no entertainment value in watching male-females compete against female-females. The male-females would win every time over female-females.


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About Sheril Kirshenbaum

Sheril Kirshenbaum is a research scientist with the Webber Energy Group at the University of Texas at Austin's Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy where she works on projects to enhance public understanding of energy issues as they relate to food, oceans, and culture. She is involved in conservation initiatives across levels of government, working to improve communication between scientists, policymakers, and the public. Sheril is the author of The Science of Kissing, which explores one of humanity's fondest pastimes. She also co-authored Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future with Chris Mooney, chosen by Library Journal as one of the Best Sci-Tech Books of 2009 and named by President Obama's science advisor John Holdren as his top recommended read. Sheril contributes to popular publications including Newsweek, The Washington Post, Discover Magazine, and The Nation, frequently covering topics that bridge science and society from climate change to genetically modified foods. Her writing is featured in the anthology The Best American Science Writing 2010. In 2006 Sheril served as a legislative Knauss science fellow on Capitol Hill with Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) where she was involved in energy, climate, and ocean policy. She also has experience working on pop radio and her work has been published in Science, Fisheries Bulletin, Oecologia, and Issues in Science and Technology. In 2007, she helped to found Science Debate; an initiative encouraging candidates to debate science research and innovation issues on the campaign trail. Previously, Sheril was a research associate at Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment and has served as a Fellow with the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation at the American Museum of Natural History and as a Howard Hughes Research Fellow. She has contributed reports to The Nature Conservancy and provided assistance on international protected area projects. Sheril serves as a science advisor to NPR's Science Friday and its nonprofit partner, Science Friday Initiative. She also serves on the program committee for the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). She speaks regularly around the country to audiences at universities, federal agencies, and museums and has been a guest on such programs as The Today Show and The Daily Rundown on MSNBC. Sheril is a graduate of Tufts University and holds two masters of science degrees in marine biology and marine policy from the University of Maine. She co-hosts The Intersection on Discover blogs with Chris Mooney and has contributed to DeSmogBlog, Talking Science, Wired Science and Seed. She was born in Suffern, New York and is also a musician. Sheril lives in Austin, Texas with her husband David Lowry.Interested in booking Sheril Kirshenbaum to speak at your next event? Contact Hachette Speakers Bureau 866.376.6591 info@hachettespeakersbureau.comFor more information, visit her website or email Sheril at


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