Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Happy 75th Birthday Dr. Renee Richards

While watching MSNBC's Countdown Keith Olbermann made me aware of a milestone birthday occurring for a woman that happened to be his ophthalmologist.

Dr. Renee Richards turned 75 today.

This woman happened to be one of the transgender newsmakers during the 70's. She was one of the transpeople I was following news wise nationally, internationally and locally as I struggled to make sense of and deal with my own gender issues.

She fought for her right to play professional tennis when the USTA established a woman-born-woman policy back in the day that the New York Supreme Court overturned.

She ended up ranked as high as number 20 in the world before retiring as a player in 1981, and was Martina Navratilova's coach when Martina was dominating the women's tennis scene during the 80's.

She's still practicing medicine, and she has become less than popular in some transpeople's eyes with her increasingly conservative views and public regrets about transition.

She openly criticized the 2004 IOC decision to allow transpeople to compete in the Olympic games, calling it 'stupid'.

I disagree, but just like I speak my mind and some people don't like what I have to say, I respect her right to articulate her opinions on that subject and many others.

I need to point out to the peeps criticizing her that just as I reflect the attitudes of someone who grew up in the 60's and 70's, she is a product of her generation. She grew up in a time that was far more rigid and repressive about gender and she reflects those attitudes.

Happy birthday Dr. Richards. I hope that your remaining days on the planet are filled with whatever happiness and peace you can find.

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