Illustration for article titled Aint I a Young Woman?

The controversy swirling around Caster Semenya's gender identity has been beyond offensive. Not just — as Kai Wright and Helena Andrews so eloquently put it — because of the Western standards of beauty implied with each accusation or the inhumanity of the accusations, themselves. The real shame of Ms. Semenya's ordeal is the fact that she's only 18 years old.


True, she's an athlete. A superb one, at that. And had she not been able to dust her competitors in the 800m race, her stature and physique, the pitch of her voice nor the size of her bust line may have been an issue. But she did dust them. It is an issue. And she's still only 18.

At 18, I could barely answer "Who are you?" Did her peers, the IAAF, media and American public really have the audacity to ask Caster Semenya "What are you?


The Otherness title is old hat. Other public symbols have had to bear the burden. Transgender Top Model contestant Isis Tsunami was dissected by TV viewers until her predictable elimination in the show's 11th cycle. The details of her sex change process were crudely inquired, while Isis bravely held fast to who she was: a woman. But, in the end, the audience had its say. Loudly.

When it comes to life in the public eye, cruelty isn’t new. And sadly, the speculation and invasion of privacy is almost expected. But at 18, these just aren't the growing pains that Caster Semenya should have to survive. She is, after all, an impressionable young lady.


Saaret Yoseph is a writer and Assistant Editor at She manages and blogs for \"Their Eyes Were Watching …\"

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