The debate about whether 18-year-old South African track star Caster Semenya is a man or a woman has been widely criticized as trivial and insensitive. When gender-verification tests determined Semenya to be intersex, the furor only intensified. She's "A Woman...And a Man," blared one headline. But a few columnists are arguing that Semenya's humiliation may serve a larger purpose: The incident has forced an uncomfortable debate about gender into the limelight in much the same manner that the Stonewall Riots did for homosexuality a generation ago.

  • This Could End the Intersex Stigma, writes Joseph-Huff Hannon at the Daily Beast. He argues that Semenya has ushered in a potential "Stonewall moment" for the intersex movement, which desires the same things as earlier civil-rights struggles: mainstream acceptance, equality under the law, and the right to safely be "out." Also: they don't like to be called "hermaphrodites."
  • A New Way to Think About Gender, Meghan Daum writes at The Los Angeles Times: "Society, in large part, has grown accustomed to thinking about race, religion and even sexual identity in more than just binary terms -- recognizing that people may be black and white, Catholic and Buddhist, even transgender -- but being both sexes at once?"
  • Oh Great, Another Rights Group!, huffs Maggie Gallagher at RealClearPolitics. "We live in an age where rights are multiplying like rabbits. Don't get me wrong: I like rabbits." She says the conflicting demands of gender-based human rights groups are hard to follow.
In Vermont, 16-year-old Kyle Giard-Chase marched over to the Vermont Human Rights Commission to demand the right to genderless bathrooms in public schools. Kyle is working with Outright Vermont, a social service organization for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth, which views unisex bathrooms as the next great civil rights revolution.
[...]Yet up in Maine, a genderless bathroom is not the human rights solution; it's the new human rights violation. In a case decided last month, a biological boy in a grade school who identifies as a girl was given the option of using the faculty's unisex bathroom. Instead the child's parents went straight to Maine's Human Rights Commission, which ruled the child had the right to use the girls' bathroom, regardless of how uncomfortable it makes the girls feel.