The Race To Be Myself: A Memoir

Norton Oct. 2023. 320p. ISBN 9781324035770. $30. MEMOIR
Runner Semenya has won three world championships, two Olympic gold medals, and dozens of other victories, especially in 800-meter women’s track races. For more than a decade, she’s also endured racist treatment and rumors about her body. She writes here that she was assigned female at birth but was born with naturally high testosterone levels, internal testes, and no ovaries, and she lives as a woman. She describes her childhood as a girl typical for her South African village; early on, she found the most fun, meaningful activity to be running. Without much coaching or proper track shoes, she began winning races. She writes that long before being challenged at a 2009 major Berlin track meet for appearing too masculine and winning often, she was accustomed to pulling her track shorts down to show that she was a girl. For a decade after Berlin, she fought the international track organization that sought to bar her from competition unless she took testosterone-limiting drugs or underwent surgery to reduce her hormone levels. All the while, she kept winning, setting records, and fighting to compete as a woman.
VERDICT A gripping, provocative book that will engage readers of titles about track, international sports, gender politics, and acceptance.
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