Queer Warrior: Caster Semenya

@castersemenya800m, Olympic Gold Medalist

Caster Semenya needs no introduction. The double Olympic gold medalist gained prominence in 2009 when she was subjected to tests by the IAAF after winning gold at the world championships in Berlin that year.

She has faced years of tests, violently discriminatory reporting and public persecution for simply choosing to run without altering her body.

While disappointed by a recent ruling, Semenyaremains firm in her values. “I will continue to fight for the human rights of female athletes, both on the track and off the track, until we can all run free the way we were born. I know what is right, and will do all I can to protect basic human rights, for young girls everywhere,” Semenya said after a recent ruling.

Semenya’s courage, while admirable, should not have been necessary. She has always dreamed of being the best middle-distance runner and her dream was supported by family from a young age. “I go home once a week sometimes, if I miss them a lot,” she has said.

She has shared that the experience of the past years has some positives to take from them. She has been learning, getting to know herself better and has a remarkable confidence that is unsettled and grounded in love for her work and impact, her wife, her baby and her community and, most noteably, herself.

“I know I look like a man – so what? I know how I am. I’m a very happy human being. I can do anything that I want. As a runner, I can run anything. I believe in consistency, in repeating whatever you do. This is what I’d call meditation, because I do pray, and I repeat that every day.”

If any of us can take away a piece of wisdom from Caster, it is to continuously do the best that we can manage.

By ways of Semenya’s knowledge, it is up to us to accept ourselves. It is not up to a country, not up to a society, it is up to each and every one of us as individuals.

Words: Tshegofatso Senne

 

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