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Why It's Time For Sports To Adopt The Third Gender

Caster Semenya's case shows that the sport world must have an open debate about intersexuality, and finally step up.

Caster Semenya competing in Doha, Qatar on May 3, 2019
Caster Semenya competing in Doha, Qatar on May 3, 2019
Barbara Klimke

"Hell no": This is how double Olympic champion Caster Semenya responded to the news that she will have to take medication to lower her testosterone levels if she wants to compete again in women's races. New rules by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), which come into effect on May 8, have been criticized as discriminatory.

The South African middle-distance runner says she won't take any medication even though the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) rejected her appeal against the IAAF's new regulations. Up to 1.7% of the world's population are born with intersex traits, according to the United Nations. This means they have both male and female characteristics. Semenya is a woman but she was born with the intersex trait of high testosterone.

In most countries around the world, intersex people come up against discriminatory rules that assign them one gender or another. In Germany a landmark ruling paved the way for an intersex identity law that allows people to choose the "diverse" category on documents.

-OpEd-

MUNICH — Soccer recently took the lead: In the Germany v. Serbia men's friendly match in March, toilet doors of the Wolfsburg Arena had unisex signs. Offering visitors a "gender-neutral stadium experience" was praiseworthy, but only the first step. The second must be to effectively move the issue from the toilets to the playing field.

The amazing thing about the intersexuality debate, about fluid boundaries between the sexes, about the impossibility of making a clear classification, is the fact that it has hardly ever taken place in sport. You can see still the two letters (F and M) on Wolfsburg Arena door signs. Of course, the November 2017 ruling by the Federal Constitutional Court on the third gender concerns sport too.

Germany v. Serbia game — Photo: Firo Sportphoto/Ralf Ibing/DPA/ZUMA

Now, no one may have felt the urgency to be able to select three European champions, for example in the categories M, F and Diverse. But South African middle-distance runner Caster Semenya's challenge against discriminatory hormone treatment was pending for months before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Exactly because this story illustrated a complicated situation and attracted worldwide attention, it would have been desirable that clubs and associations, committees and other bodies here in Germany had thought about the situation better.​

Semenya's case presents itself as a kind of classical experiment.

It's true, track and field is better suited than other sports for such a debate on such basic principles. Because of the nature of running, Semenya's case presents itself as a kind of classical experiment: Distance, time and a body moving from start to finish. We do not have to consider more than these three components; there are no hurdles, no pirouettes, which may affect the overall performance. If there is a need for action, such as the introduction of different competition categories, then track and field is perfect.

And this is a big "if" — because perhaps the belief prevails that the old way is better. Only it is not a good idea to wait for the next case to come up. The third gender is a reality in sport — from the stadium bathrooms to the competitors on the field.

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Geopolitics

New Probe Finds Pro-Bolsonaro Fake News Dominated Social Media Through Campaign

Ahead of Brazil's national elections Sunday, the most interacted-with posts on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Telegram and WhatsApp contradict trustworthy information about the public’s voting intentions.

Jair Bolsonaro bogus claims perform well online

Cris Faga/ZUMA
Laura Scofield and Matheus Santino

SÂO PAULO — If you only got your news from social media, you might be mistaken for thinking that Jair Bolsonaro is leading the polls for Brazil’s upcoming presidential elections, which will take place this Sunday. Such a view flies in the face of what most of the polling institutes registered with the Superior Electoral Court indicate.

An exclusive investigation by the Brazilian investigative journalism agency Agência Pública has revealed how the most interacted-with and shared posts in Brazil on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Telegram and WhatsApp share data and polls that suggest victory is certain for the incumbent Bolsonaro, as well as propagating conspiracy theories based on false allegations that research institutes carrying out polling have been bribed by Bolsonaro’s main rival, former president Luís Inácio Lula da Silva, or by his party, the Workers’ Party.

Agência Pública’s reporters analyzed the most-shared posts containing the phrase “pesquisa eleitoral” [electoral polls] in the period between the official start of the campaigning period, on August 16, to September 6. The analysis revealed that the most interacted-with and shared posts on social media spread false information or predicted victory for Jair Bolsonaro.

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