Zdeněk Koubek

The relationship between gender and sports has always been a complicated one, made even more so by modern gender roles. After the 1930s, it was increasingly common for athletes in international circles to be put through what was called “sex tests,” aimed at removing “gender frauds.” This was particularly true for women’s sports. These tests, lacking in scientific reasoning, tended to be invasive and humiliating. The goal was to ensure that no men were competing in the women’s Olympics, and so athletes were measured against white cishetero standards of femininity.

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One of the men who started and fortunately escaped from these discussions was Zdeněk Koubek. He was a transgender man who, after some years of participating in the Women’s Olympics and breaking several world records, withdrew from competitive sports and prioritized his own happiness.

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Jeanette Schmid


We have covered a number of different professions throughout this project: writers, activists, actors, business owners, singers. There is more than enough proof that queer people can (and will) fill any role. So when we approach the subject of this article we aren’t confused by the fact a queer person held the role; we are surprised that this is a role that is held at all. Jeanette Schmid began as a female impersonator and ended up as a professional whistler.

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