Renée Richards

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Renée Richards (born August 19, 1934) wrote the following books:

She is an American ophthalmologist, author and former professional tennis player. In 1975, Richards underwent sex reassignment surgery. She is known for initially being denied entry into the 1976 US Open by the United States Tennis Association, citing an unprecedented women-born-women policy. She disputed the ban, and the New York Supreme Court ruled in her favor in 1977. This was a landmark decision in favor of transsexual rights.

Early life

Richards was born in New York City and named Richard Raskind. At six the family moved to Forest Hills. Raskind was ranked among the top-10 Eastern and national juniors in the late 1940s and early 1950s. he was captain of his high school tennis team at the Horace Mann School in New York City, and at fifteen won the Eastern Private Schools Interscholastic singles title. Raskind went to Yale and played on the tennis team first in singles competition and captained the team in 1954. After Yale, Raskind went to medical school at the University of Rochester, then served in the Navy as a Lieutenant Commander. He pursued a career as an eye surgeon, specializing in strabismus (eye misalignment). Raskind reached the final of the men's national 35-and-over tennis championships in 1972.

Transitioning sex

In the mid-1960s Raskind traveled in Europe dressed as a woman, intending to go to north Africa to see Georges Burou, a famous gynecological surgeon at Clinique Parc in Casablanca, Morocco, regarding sex reassignment surgery. However, he changed his mind and returned to New York, where he married and fathered one son. Raskind was referred to surgeon Roberto C. Granato, Sr. by Harry Benjamin and in 1975 successfully transitioned.

Tennis career after transitioning

As Renée Richards, she subsequently played from 1977 to 1981.[4] She was ranked as high as 20th overall (in February 1979), and her highest ranking at the end of a year was 22nd (in 1977). In her first professional event as a female, she was a finalist in women's doubles (with Betty Ann Stewart, in 1977), and continued to have a successful career afterwards. Her greatest successes on court were reaching the doubles final at the US Open in 1977 with Betty Ann Stuart — the pair lost a close match to Martina Navratilova and Betty Stöve - and winning the 35-and-over women's singles. Richards was twice a semifinalist in mixed doubles (with Ilie Năstase) at the US Open. In 1979, she defeated Nancy Richey for the 35s singles title at the US Open. Richards posted wins over Hana Mandlikova, Sylvia Hanika, Virginia Ruzici, and Pam Shriver.

She later coached Navratilova to two Wimbledon wins and was inducted into the USTA Eastern Tennis Hall of Fame in 2000.


Dr. Richards has publicly expressed some regrets over her transition and the effects it had on her life and her family's, statements that have generated some criticism from the transsexual community. For whatever reasons, including the sports-based notoriety surrounding her name - combined with the wide dissemination of her photographs - people always seemed to think of Renée as a "transsexual" rather than as a woman. This was unlike the situations that had faced other widely known contemporary postop women such as Christine Jorgensen and April Ashley, who although facing problems of discrimination were nevertheless quite generally thought of and reacted to as women by most folks, even in those early days.

In the end this may have become a major problem for Renée. Or perhaps as the media attention faded and as social, relational, emotional and physical realities set in, her hopes for an unendingly sexy, exciting life as a center of attention faded too. Whatever the reason, her transition failed to meet even her own expectations, and Renée now acknowledges that she wishes that she had NOT undergone a sex change.

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