Against the Grain

The Nazi Origins of Gender Surveillance in Sports

In 1936, Nazi Germany hosted the Summer Olympic Games in Berlin, amidst international calls to boycott. It was an enormously consequential event in the politics of the times, granting Hitler an international spotlight to promote the Third Reich. Much less known, as writer Michael Waters argues, is how Nazi eugenics and paranoia about transgender athletes gave rise to the gender surveillance that characterizes contemporary sports to this day.


Michael Waters, The Other Olympians: Fascism, Queerness, and the Making of Modern Sports Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2024


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