South African LGBTQ athlete Caster Semenya is featured in an impressive line-up of queer achievers recognised in Time magazine’s 100 most influential people of 2019 list.
Semenya was included alongside the likes of Taylor Swift, Spike Lee and Michelle Obama in the “Icon” category.
Writing about Semenya for Time, American Olympic gold medalist Edwin Moses said she has “taught us that sex isn’t always binary, and caused us to question the justness of distributing societal benefits according to ‘male’ and ‘female’ classifications.”
Semenya is a three-time 800m world champion and won silver at the 2012 Summer Olympics and gold in the 800 metre event at the 2016 Summer Olympics.
She is challenging recent regulations by the International Association for Athletics Federation (IAAF) that would force her to artificially reduce her natural testosterone levels in order to compete as a woman.
“If successful, Semenya’s effort could open the door for all who identify as women to compete in track events without having to first medically lower their testosterone levels below a proposed limit,” said Moses.
He added that regardless of the outcome of the case, “Semenya will have already made a singular historical contribution to our understanding of biological sex.”
Other LGBTQ groundbreakers recognised by Time include trans actress Indya Moore (Pose); gay screenwriter, producer and director Ryan Murphy (Glee, American Horror Story); out Jamaican author Marlon James; gay artist David Hockney; and Lady Gaga, who identifies as bisexual.
The list also featured notable LGBTQ allies such as South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, lawyers Arundhati Katju and Menaka Guruswamy, who helped legalise homosexuality in India, singer Ariana Grande and actor Rami Malek, who played Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody.