Track star Caster Semenya graces the cover of Out magazine’s August issue, the publication revealed on Tuesday (July 23). As Colorlines has previously reported, Semenya has been battling the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) for her right to run for a grueling decade.
“When I do sports is when I feel happy. I feel free,” Semenya told Out during her photo shoot in Seattle. “As long as I remember, it was all about being free.”
The article takes readers through Semenya’s athletic history, where she went from running between villages in South Africa to besting elite athletes and snagging world records. Being the best, and Black, somehow put her biological gender up for public debate, with her competitors complaining about her speed and the IAAF photographing her genitals during an examination, only to clear her to compete a year later. Ultimately, Semenya was found to have naturally higher testosterone levels than most women and told she’d have to take drugs to lower them if she wants to race. Biologically, everyone has and needs testosterone and estrogen.
In speaking with medical experts and other elite runners, many told Out that Semenya is definitely being discriminated against for being a woman who runs remarkably fast. “[Critics’] opinions are not facts,” Semenya reportedly said. “If you have self-love, you can never, ever [be destroyed].” Not to mention the backing of her parents and of her wife, Violet Raseboya.
“Representing your country is everything,” Semenya said. “I’m not just doing it for myself. I think I’ve achieved everything that I wanted to achieve, but now it’s about my people, who look up to me, who support me, who are inspired by my work.”
Semenya will race this summer and fall and to try for another World Championship. “It’s not about performing, it’s about inspiring the world, changing the world [and] how people see life,” she said.