Renee Richards Speaks Out Against Transsexuals in Female Sports

October 5, 2011

From the LATimes:

“These days, Richards does not think transsexual athletes should be allowed to compete professionally. “I don’t think it’s a level playing field, even though the International Olympic Committee, in its utter wisdom, has declared that it is,” she explained.”

 

 

22 Responses to “Renee Richards Speaks Out Against Transsexuals in Female Sports”

  1. GallusMag Says:

    You’ll have to click the above and watch on YouTube for now- sorry for the inconvenience.😉

  2. DaveSquirrel Says:

    Bummer GallusMag, this vid hates the brits!
    Can’t watch it.

    He is the one muzzling in on women’s golf, isn’t he?

    • GallusMag Says:

      Ahh, frackking ESPN has you locked out. I’ll post a replacement version if one becomes available.

      “He is the one muzzling in on women’s golf, isn’t he?”

      Lord, no. Thats a retired swat team officer named Lana Lawless who started his professional sports career in women’s golf at the age of 57.

      Renee Richards is the first transsexual to win the “right” to compete in women’s sports, specifically tennis. By so doing, he was able to start a professional tennis career at the ripe old age of 40something. He went on to become a coach, most notably working with with Martina Navratilova. A documentary on Dr. Richards is being featured this month on ESPN. Here is a clip:

  3. SheilaG Says:

    Yeah I remember all the jokes about mixed singles when Richards came on the tennis scene. At least he is being honest now. Can’t access the vid for some reason.

  4. GallusMag Says:

    If you click on the video a prompt should come up that says Click Here to View on YouTube. Click on that.

  5. DaveSquirrel Says:

    Thanks, I watched the trailer, not exactly satisfying though, so I googled a bit and found this:

    The Lady Regrets

    BEFORE Dr. Renée Richards had a sex-change operation, when she was an up-and-coming eye doctor and one of the top-ranked amateur tennis players in the East, she could be, by her own estimation, an arrogant fellow, tough and demanding. Talking with her three decades later, one still has the uneasy sense, at times, of that impatient male surgeon trapped in her body trying to break out.

    Not that Dr. Richards, 72 and still practicing, is ever anything but polite. She comes outside in the rain, in sneakers, warm-up pants and a red sweater, to greet her visitor, reining in her enthusiastic, 140-pound Bernese mountain dog. She’s had her assistant, Arleen Larzelere, 60, prepare lunch. She provides a tour of her cozy three-bedroom cottage in the hamlet of Kent Cliffs, in Putnam County, an hour north of New York City: the faded chintz armchairs, the walk-in closet where a mink shares space with a golf bag that bears her name.

    But as the conversation prompted by Dr. Richards’s new memoir, “No Way Renée,” runs to two hours, she grows restless. Dr. Richards is 6’2”, with the rangy body of a lifelong athlete, and in maturity, her angular bone structure seems to be pushing its way to the fore. And as she wearies of the interview, her body language seems to become more traditionally male, suggesting an athlete who is wearying of the game.

    “You’re writing this book all over again,” she grouses.

    And, later, on another subject, “I can explain, but I don’t think you’re going to be able to follow it.”

    Time to talk about, uh … décor. Those antique tennis illustrations; the plaque marking your induction into the Eastern Tennis Hall of Fame in 2000. It appears, Dr. Richards, that there are no photos of you as a man.

    “I don’t like to have pictures of me as a guy in the dining room or living room,” says Dr. Richards, who was once Dr. Richard Raskind. “I threw away most of the pictures of Dick. In fact, pictures of Dick with a beard, I destroyed.” She leads the way to the bedroom, where there are photos of her as both a handsome young male Naval officer and a good-looking middle-aged woman. In one photo of herself, Renée stands with her father, who refused to acknowledge her sex change, even when she visited him in a skirt.

    He’s smiling at you, the reporter says.

    “Sure he’s smiling, you kidding?” Dr. Richards says. “The sun rose and set over me. Every clipping about me, Dick or Renée, he saved.”

    Dr. Richards never wanted to be a pioneer. But in 1976, while taking part in women’s amateur tennis competitions, she was revealed to have once been a man, setting off a media feeding frenzy. The next year, when the United States Tennis Association tried to prevent her from playing in the women’s events at the U.S. Open, Open, she went to court and won the right to play.

    “No Way Renée: The Second Half of My Notorious Life,” written with John Ames, deals with the long-term consequences of her surgery. Dr. Richards writes of life as a very young boy, when an older sister, “after pushing my penis into my body,” would say “Now you’re a little girl”; of their psychiatrist mother who occasionally dressed him in a slip. As an adult, there was off-and-on use of female hormones, which left Dr. Richard Raskind with breasts. He tried to compensate in the early years of his marriage by acting tough.

    “I swaggered like a macho man,” Dr. Richards writes, “but I jiggled when I did so.”

    The marriage, which produced a son, ended in divorce. Nor did Dr. Richards’s sex change bring her the great love affair with a man of which she dreamed, although there was affection and sex. Romance with a woman does not interest her. Though she has lived with Ms. Larzelere, her former office manager, for almost 25 years — she turns over her check each week and Ms. Larzelere handles the grocery shopping and cooking — their relationship is not romantic.

    Dr. Richards says there is a bond because both were scarred by their childhoods, Ms. Larzelere by an alcoholic father who beat her. Ms. Larzelere, a warm woman who is so insistent about being a caregiver that she calls the reporter three times with an offer to pick her up at the train station, explains it more simply. “I just take care of people,” she says, “that’s what I do.” Now divorced, Ms. Larzelere says she gave up on men in her mid-30s.

    Dr. Richards’s book also deals with the effects of her surgery on her son, Nick Raskind, now grown. Mr. Raskind was 3 years old at the time of the sex change, but was not told about it until he was 8. (When Dr. Richards saw her son during that period, she dressed as a man and wore a short gray wig.) Dr. Richards takes responsibility for her son’s problems: getting tossed out of prep schools; running away to Jamaica at 13. These days, Mr. Raskind is a New York City real estate broker specializing in lofts in the financial district, and Dr. Richards bunks at her son’s Park Avenue apartment when she works in Manhattan.

    Would Mr. Raskind be willing to talk about Dr. Richards?

    “If he thinks it would help him sell some lofts, he will,” she says.

    Mr. Raskind seems perfectly comfortable speaking about the woman who still considers herself his father — although he’s annoyed that his problems were always blamed on the sex change. He also refers to Dr. Richards as “he.”

    Why?

    “Because I have a mother that’s a woman,” he says. “My father could have an elephant change — he could be a dromedary — and he’d still be my father.”

    He has no memory of being told about his father’s change.

    “For a kid, it was a non-event,” he says. “I was a pretty fat little kid and I used to get teased about being fat a lot. Then between the time I was 10 and 13, kids at school did know about it and I used to get teased about it. That was the driving force behind me getting into martial arts very seriously later in life.”

    Back to Dr. Richards, who is surprisingly conservative. She calls the 2004 decision of the International Olympic Committee, which allows transsexuals to compete, “a particularly stupid decision,” explaining that when she sued to play at the U.S. Open, she was 40. “I wasn’t going to overwhelm Chris Evert and Tracy Austin, who were 20 years old.”

    And while she believes same-sex couples should receive the same benefits as those who are married, her idea of marriage demands a man and a woman.

    “It’s like a female plug and an electrical outlet,” she says.

    In Ms. Larzelere, she seems to have a wife, she is told. “How many famous actresses have said, ‘I want a wife,’ ” Dr. Richards says. “Katharine Hepburn had somebody like Arleen who lived with her for the final 30 years.”

    In her book, Dr. Richards never writes that she regrets having had her surgery, yet she lists so many regrets relating to her sex change that it is like someone who returns again and again to the edge of a great pit, but refuses to leap in. Those feelings were also evident in past interviews.

    “In 1999, you told People—” the reporter begins.

    Dr. Richards interrupts.

    “—I told People what I was feeling, which I still feel: Better to be an intact man functioning with 100 percent capacity for everything than to be a transsexual woman who is an imperfect woman.”

    In the same interview, Dr. Richards talked about wishing for something that could have prevented the surgery.

    “What I said was if there were a drug, some voodoo, any kind of mind-altering magic remedy to keep the man intact, that would have been preferable, but there wasn’t,” Dr. Richards says. “The pressure to change into a woman was so strong that if I had not been able to do it, I might have been a suicide.”

    Does she regret having the surgery?

    “The answer is no.”

    Dr. Richards’s game is no longer tennis; her knees are shot. Her great passion now is golf.

    “I swing a golf club four times a week, every chance I get, ” she says. “I try to cram in what I didn’t have until starting 12 years ago. And I can’t do it. No matter how excellent an athlete I was, maybe it’s like having a sex change, it’s something I can’t undo: I can’t undo the fact I didn’t play golf when I was a kid.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/01/garden/01renee.html?pagewanted=all

  6. Noanodyne Says:

    This interview is way more illuminating than the ESPN doc, which I watched while pacing and yelling at the tube. The documenatry is heavily weighted on the side of feeling sorry for good ‘ol Dick. The frustrating experience of re-living that asshole’s assault on women’s tennis was topped only by listening to interviews of the female tennis players of the era (Billie Jean King, Martina, etc.) saying how they empathized with him and supported him. Only John McEnroe gave any insight into how fucked up it was (and what a freaking sideshow).

    This interview shows just what a fucked up person he was and is. There’s your famous trans, folks, can’t decide whether he wants his dick or his privilege or his family, but we get a front row seat to his pathetic life anyway. He’s just an entitled, arrogant asshole who happened to have a fetish and enough of a giant ego to force that issue on everyone else. How in the holy fucking hell did everyone get deluded into ever thinking these men were any better than that?

    • fabflowers Says:

      this is so true! my exact thoughts as i was reading the article. thanks Dave for that addition to the story… ugh, Noanodyne, so typical of them isn’t it, yes? cannot decide between the ol’ male privilege and their dream of being laydees. same old story, nothing new, lol…

  7. Loup-loup garou Says:

    Squanks for the article, DaveSquirrel.

    I give the author some points for not being afraid to say that RR isn’t completely convincing as a woman. But there are some astonishing WTF moments:

    “As an adult, there was off-and-on use of female hormones…” I’m going to ignore the dangling modifier and just go straight to the content. “Off-and-on use of female hormones.” What. The. Fuck…???!?!!!? What sane person does that to themself? Even most transitioners realize this is a Bad Idea. This guy doesn’t even have the excuse of ignorance — he went to medical school, for crying out loud.

    Then there’s the bizarre relationship with the assistant, a woman with a history of having been abused, and apparently no personal life outside her domestic servant duties for RR. “I just take care of people,” she says. Surprise, surprise, someone willing to take full advantage of that zeroed right in on her.

    ‘In Ms. Larzelere, she seems to have a wife, she is told. “How many famous actresses have said, ‘I want a wife,’ ” Dr. Richards says. “Katharine Hepburn had somebody like Arleen who lived with her for the final 30 years.” ‘

    The WTFs in this one are layered, rather like a Russian doll. Can’t quite decide whether RR’s comparing himself to famous actresses in general is a) narcissism or b) a gay male, drag-queen sensibility showing through. Probably the answer is c) both of the above. Also, does he not realize that there have been persistent rumors that Katharine Hepburn was a lesbian?

    Then there’s this:

    “And while she believes same-sex couples should receive the same benefits as those who are married, her idea of marriage demands a man and a woman.” Of course — otherwise, all that mutilating surgery would seem kind of unnecessary.

    And of course, there’s the old household appliance/genitalia analogy so beloved of the less sophisticated homophobe:

    “It’s like a female plug and an electrical outlet,” she says.

    Behind this, though, can’t you just hear the gay man saying “Eeeew, fish”?

    And this
    “—I told People what I was feeling, which I still feel: Better to be an intact man functioning with 100 percent capacity for everything than to be a transsexual woman who is an imperfect woman.”

    Better to remain intact, no problem, but describing himself as an “imperfect woman”? He’s not a woman, period. It’s also unutterably creepy that he has some notion that there’s such a thing as a “perfect woman.”

    As for M2Ts participating in women’s sports — I once came across an online discussion of this, in which some male transitioner was saying “After being on estrogen for years, I’m just as weak as any other woman.” He kept repeating that: “I’m just as weak as any other woman.” And there you have it, misogyny pure and simple. If he had had the slightest glimmering of respect for women, or for himself in what he imagined was his new, woman’s body, he would have said: “After years on estrogen, my physical strength falls within the standard range for most women,” or even, “After years on estrogen, I no longer have any male strength advantage.” But no, he kept harping on how weak he was, due to becoming a “woman.” Sounded kinda fetishistic, in fact.

    • DaveSquirrel Says:

      Then there’s the bizarre relationship with the assistant, a woman with a history of having been abused, and apparently no personal life outside her domestic servant duties for RR. “I just take care of people,” she says. Surprise, surprise, someone willing to take full advantage of that zeroed right in on her.

      Yeah, I thought that exact same thing.

      All those comments about ‘having a wife’ shows that his male entitlement remained intact, even after surgery. In hetworld, wife is codeword for ‘unpaid domestic/[reproductive/sexual] slave’. Basically most of what he has in Ms Larzelere, for a probable token wage and I gather living arrangement as part of the cheapskate deal.

      Good catch on the “I’m just as weak as any other woman.” It of course harks back to the view that females are defective males, and that males are the default of all to aspire to.

    • Noanodyne Says:

      You should see them side-by-side in the documentary if you really want a chill and a stomach lurch. The interviewer asks them about their relationship, which is just what you’re saying only worse and then RR waxes about all his sexual escapades. He’s a male through and through.

  8. twanzmooselike Says:

    It is my experience, from having done both paid domestic work, and advocacy for a Filipina “nanny” right’s group, that men view any woman working in their home as wife in some or all capacities, and act on their entitlement without fail.

    Renee is just proving that Renee is a man, and the protestations about other men stepping into his role of a castrated man who got away with it are mere jealousy, in my opinion.

  9. SheilaG Says:

    Katherine Hepburn was long suspected of being a closeted lesbian, so her relationship with Arlene was quite probably a lesbian one. Men always get confused about women who live together… he can only imagine his “live in” woman (wife) as a servant… how convenient to exploit this woman who like to “take care of” people. The interviewer should have asked about wages, social security benefits etc.

    But what I wanted to hear, was more about why he now thinks trans should not be able to play women’s sports… more on that, because that’s a final admission that the whole thing is a fraudulent way to interfer with women’s sports.

    And if you ask me, most men I know are emotional weaklings, and if you compared their emotional health to women’s you’d find them sadly wanting. Humpf!

  10. Noanodyne Says:

    The other thing that RR admitted to in the documentary was that he wanted to be on the women’s tennis tour not because he expected to win (and he admitted that specifically multiple times), but that he wanted to “prove” or “show” or something similar that he was a woman. That’s something that Mag has helped us see over and over with these creeps — they’ll use whatever means to make their point that they really are what they say they are. What better way than for a shallow, selfish, arrogant prick to crow to the world: “I must be a woman, I play on the women’s tennis circuit.”

  11. Noanodyne Says:

    As for the “weak on estrogen” trope and the documentary, Mary Carillo made the point strenuously how the poor, poor RR was just so impacted by all those hormones raging through RR’s body!! Oh my god, I could just hear trans nation wringing their hankies, verklempt and gasping at the drama of it all! The poor dear!! How sad!! What a tragedy!! What a brave fellow!!

    They’re all the victim-heroes of the tragedy of their own making.

  12. Bev Jo Says:

    It’s all the same thing again, with all of these men.

    But, what is going on, when, as Noan says, McEnroe recognized this prick for what he was, while Lesbians Billie Jean King and Martina supported him? It’s all that misplaced identifying with the “freak” and outcast, while worshipping the maleness. This is the crux of the problem: Women and Lesbians must stop defending and supporting these men.

  13. SheilaG Says:

    Bev Jo… the day that lesbians finally defend their own best interests and reject these creeps… well it’s like hoping for the cow to jump over the moon.

    Amazing how McEnroe was on to this creep but Billie Jean King and Martina… yikes… lesbians would let a male with a shot gun into the house… hey he was starving and limping and needed help…
    we are suckers! Ugh.

  14. Bev Jo Says:

    Not all of us are, but yes, way too many. I love Lesbians’ generosity and open hearts, but too many forget that it hurts Lesbians to support the wrong people.

  15. SheilaG Says:

    I know, not all of us are suckers, but I swear, if I have to hear about one more lesbian wanting us all to get along, I’m going to scream!! I hate how we coalition our needs out of existence, and then we wonder why our community still is so poor, so poor in resources. The one thing we need to change is loyalty to lesbian nation… even a desire for our space, and the guts to kick out the trans, get rid of creeps like Elliot… keep our spaces safe. If only we could all JUST DO THAT!!


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