Gender at the Olympics

Opening Ceremonies at the 2016 Olympics in Rio are this evening at Maracana Stadium...even though we are already through two days of Soccer competition.

The show was produced by film director Fernando Meirelles (City of God).

I hope that the Opening Ceremony will be a drug for depression in Brazil.


Rumors are flying. Some of them are true.

Lots of samba and bossa nova. Lots of dancers. Mrs. Tom Brady, Brazilian super model Giselle Bundchen as the Girl from Ipanema.

 photo leat_zpsmiu6pph4.jpgTransgender model Lea T will become the first transgender woman to participate in an opening ceremonies.

I can’t say anything yet, we need to keep the surprise, but the message is clear ... include everyone, no matter their gender, sexual orientation, race or religion. We are all human beings and we are part of society. My role at the ceremony will help send this message.

At this time, in which Rio de Janeiro and Brazil will be presented to the world, it’s essential that diversity is present. Brazil is a vast country and all its diversity should be somehow represented in this event

--Lea T

Brazil has the highest rate if murder of transgender people in the world. Between Jan. 2008 and March 2014, 604 transgender women and men were killed in Brazil.

Like any other transsexual, I raise a flag. I'm talking about transsexuality because it is part of my history, but I'm just another member of this community. I know I have the privilege that the media listens to me, but the daily struggle of transsexual is equally important for LGBT people.

--Lea T

When the athletes finally march in it is said that each nation will be led by its own samba band,

France will be wearing LaCoste, Italy will be in Armani, Great Britain in Stella McCartney, Sweden in H&M, Canada in Dsquared2, Cuba in Louboutin, and the US in Ralph Lauren.

The ceremony will have a call for peace, a “garden” section dedicated to Brazil’s natural beauty, and a “creativity” section about how Brazilians make the best of what they have. British actress Judi Dench and 86-year-old Oscar-nominated Brazilian actress Fernanda Montenegro will read the classic poem A Flor e a Nausea (Flower and Nausea) about a flower growing in the asphalt in a heavily polluted city.

Many of Brazil’s most famous musicians, including Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso, will participate, as will some artists of funk Carioca, a type of local hip-hop.

Meirelles had to cut the budget for the production. Report is that it will coast 1/12 of the opening ceremonies of the London Games.

At first I was very upset, you start thinking something very big and then you have to cut, cut, cut. On the other hand, it is good in some way because we are in a moment in the world where we need to be reasonable with the way we spend money. The environment can’t handle it any more, we are warming the planet. It is pretty tacky to be overspending.

It is not a good message for the world. When 40 percent of the homes in Brazil have no sanitation, you can’t really be spending a billion reals for a show. In the end, I feel good that I am not spending money that Brazil hasn’t got. You can do something with heart, with concept, without spending.


Reports are that two transgender women athletes made the British team. It is unknown if they will actually participate.

They transitioned long ago and have competed at a European championship for this country.

Their national sports federations are aware of their gender history.

If they were in a gold or silver medal position they would probably drop back because their fear of ridicule and total humiliation is so massive.

--Delia Johnson, Trans in Sport

Caster Semenya, who is reportedly intersex, not trans, is back. She is on track to perhaps smash the women's 800 world record.

Track observers believe Semenya is hyperandrogenous, meaning her body naturally produces high amounts of testosterone, the hormone that helps build muscle, endurance and speed. The International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF), track and field’s governing body, has rules limiting the amount of naturally occurring functional testosterone allowed for female athletes. But today those limits are in limbo.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) suspended them last summer, citing insufficient evidence that high levels give female athletes a boost in performance. The IAAF has until next summer to make a case for its regulations or the court will abolish them. The Rio Games, meantime, fall during an interregnum where the rules don’t apply.

This is a huge human rights victory, but sports, not so much.

--Joanna Harper, intersex studies expert

Maria José Martínez-Patiño refers to it as a “free-for-all.” She was the world’s most famous intersex athlete in the mid-1980s when, as an elite hurdler for Spain, so-called gender testing found that she had XY chromosomes. She soon learned that her outwardly female form hid internal testes. She lost her place on the national team, her scholarship, her fiancé, her privacy, her sense of self.

Everything taken away, as if I never existed.


If intersex athletes produce testosterone naturally, how is that different from other genetic advantages in sports — height in basketball, for instance, or long arms in swimming?

We allow certain amounts of advantage” in sports, but not overwhelming advantage. For instance, left-handed baseball players against right-handed baseball players. But we don’t let 200-pound boxers get in the ring with 100-pound boxers. At some point, advantages become too great and we need two categories.

The reason why women can’t excel against men is a testosterone-based advantage.
The essence of dividing sport is largely based on the testosterone advantage. Using a testosterone-based divide (for women’s sports) is the best that we can do. It’s a compromise of trying to protect female athletes and also giving intersex and transgender athletes the chance to compete. There’s no perfect solution. It’s very difficult. It’s absolutely not the same case as being a very tall or very fast athlete.


Harper is herself transgender.

Transgender athletes who transition from male to female are eligible to compete in the Rio Games without gender reassignment surgery. However, they are required to maintain certain testosterone levels, while intersex athletes do not have such restrictions.




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