Renee Richards: Transsexual Tennis Player's Sex Life

Categories: Transsexuals

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Renee -- the fascinating documentary by Eric Drath which is playing the Tribeca Film Festival -- recounts the story of Richard Raskin, who in his 40s, had sexual reassignment surgery and emerged as the world's most controversial tennis star, Renee Richards.

Renee's troubled son later called this an incredibly selfish act, seeing as he felt betrayed and abandoned.

But Renee became a lightning rod for the public's feelings toward transsexualism and helped move society forward on that topic, while enduring all kinds of jeering opposition.

In fact, she had to battle to play women's tennis, validated by a court that decreed she was indeed female and should be allowed to continue.

But in the movie, today's Renee, 76, takes a different tack.

Says she: "Transsexuals have every right to play, but maybe not on a professional level because it's not a level playing field."

In her 70s, she now stands for the reverse of what she represented in the '70s!

Oh, well. She's always been a fascinating character with a wicked serve and a will of steel.

As for the playing field of the boudoir, Renee says "I've had so many combinations of men and women, women and men...that I've had my fill."

Sounds like fun. What a racket!

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13 comments
Alleycat17
Alleycat17

I know this is a bit old.... and I don't mean to seem cruel, but I saw this documentary on ESPN, and I also wondered how Renee could have attracted a 'decent' man who wasn't merely a sexual thrill-seeker. I know that in her autobio she says she was with a man in Newport Beach who didn't know about her. I still find this a little unrealistic that he didn't know. Also, according to the docu Richard's (ex) wife knew about his crossdressing and wanting to change gender. They had a photo of the two of them on their wedding day and one of Renee's friends accurately stated Richard/Renee looked like something out of the movie "Cabaret" with an androgynous haircut and after several years of female hormones. I think the wife was simply looking for an opportunity and a payday, then their son, Nick, paid the price for their decisions.

Ssssssdd
Ssssssdd

I could understand this a bit more if she didn't inadvertently push her wife and son into a reality neither of them were expecting.  I'm sure her/his wife might have thought twice about such a commitment if he would have told her he was about to have his bits chopped lol

Melinda9
Melinda9

She has always seemed unimaginably courageous to me. I can understand though the struggles her son might have to come to grips with his father's gender reassignment. I don't know the whole story, but gender roles were pretty rigid back then.

Musto
Musto

The TV movie isn't even alluded to in the doc. Maybe a rights thing?

Southern Dave
Southern Dave

Is there any footage of La Redgrave from the TV movie in the doc?

It was more literate and GLBT-friendly than most, since it was written by Gavin Lambert.

kaneblues
kaneblues

Yale. Medical school at the University of Rochester. Lieutenant Commander in the US Navy. Tennis pro. What a full life. She was trailblazer and well ahead of her time.

Rabbit
Rabbit

I remember that Renee was booed during a tennis match (probably most of them.) She also stated, if I'm remembering correctly, that something that compelled her to finally take the step was when a gay friend committed suicide.

Her son was the one being selfish - he didn't lose his parent - he was just too immature to realize the world didn't revolve around his needs.

Kat
Kat

No mention of Harry Prejean. I'm impressed.

I do look forward to seeing the documentary. She inadvertently played a role in my own transition. In 1976, I was sitting in our living room with my father when an item about her came on the local newscast. My father's reaction told me all I would ever need to know about the possibility of taking any steps toward transition while in range of him and his guns.

Rid
Rid

I remember the TV movie with Vanessa Redgrave!

Musto
Musto

PS: Renee currently works as an ophthalmologist. She came to the premiere last night and really liked the film, especially since other tennis greats told their versions of the story in it.

Justin
Justin

It's good to hear he was booed. From some of the news articles I come across, it seems as if lots of people are now under the impression that something like this is normal.

I can't believe that they allowed him to play women's tennis. The whole reason they have separate men's and women's leagues in sports is because for the most part, men are stronger and it isn't a fair competition.

His son also had every right to be upset over such an incident. I can't even imagine how I would react to having such a disturbed parent, I really feel bad for the kid. That must be a really traumatizing thing to have to go through.

And man or woman or whatever, that thing is positively ugly as sin. Anyone who slept with it was either more drunk than anyone has ever been, or as equally disturbed.

Ebsb52
Ebsb52

Glad to see the right wing still has vocal intollerance, where would we be w/o it; the 21st century?  As for men/women not playing togetehr, this wasn't a built, 300lb hairy guy getting the surgery and eating steroids to still be all male, this is a person taking all steps to become female, incl estrogen therapy, so that's why Renee didn't do well, never past the 3rd round and all other times out in the 1st, she wasn't strong like a man, like she used to be.  This srgery was for he to become her, the tennis just fell into place.  I will say this, He was from a very well off family so the she part came easily, most people in this predicament don't have these options.

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