Walsh, born Stanislawa Walasiewicz in 1911 Poland, moved to the States as an infant and grew up in Cleveland. As a teen, she became an active athlete, and - not eligible for U.S. citizenship, represented Poland at the 1930 Women's World Games. She continued her Polish representation at the 1932 and 1936 Olympics, winning 100 meters gold and silver, respectively (while also competing in the discus in 1932) and becoming a national hero. She eventually settled back in Cleveland, and finally earned U.S. citizenship, and continued racing into the 50's, winning a national title in 1951 at age 40. For her efforts, she had also been recognized as an American sports hero, being inducted into the U.S. Track and Field Hall of Fame in 1975. Eventually, she had set over 100 national or world records during her career.
But throughout her career, she was often criticized as being 'manly'. So, when a routine autopsy after her death revealed that she actually did have male genitalia, the sporting world pounced. Walsh had been raised - and ostensibly always had lived as - female, but had a condition of underdeveloped genitalia of both sexes.
There have been calls for her name to be stricken from the books, but she carried a birth certificate indicating female, and there were no sex-identification tests when she competed. So, her career stands. But the larger issues her examination raised are still there today - how to 'test' female athletes for masculinity, and how to do that sensitively, if at all. Some female athletes may have unusual but completely natural-causing male characteristics. As the recent cases of Caster Semenya and Dutee Chand prove, sport hasn't quite solved the problem yet, let alone tactfully. Somewhat luckily for Walsh, the harsh spotlight of modern medicine wasn't available to officials when she competed, and her records hold. Perhaps one day in a more enlightened future, she will be more remembered as a positive forbearer, for taking advantage of her natural physical attributes. That will be a lasting legacy to hold.