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Tennis star and eye surgeon Dr Renée Richards, born Richard Raskind in New York in 1934, is one of the best known transgenders. She tells others that her trangender surgery did not make her happy.
In a precedent-setting 1977 New York State Supreme Court ruling, Renée was declared legally a woman because hormones and sex reassignment surgery in 1975 had made “her” look like one. She was allowed to play professional tennis against other women who, unlike her, were born that way and did not possess Renée’s male skeleton, brain and upper body strength.
But her surgery and legal victory did not make Renée happy. She called the 2004 decision of the International Olympic Committee, which allowed transexuals to compete, “a particularly stupid decision”.
She said: “Better to be an intact man functioning with 100% capacity for everything than to be a transsexual woman who is an imperfect woman.”
In an earlier article, “the Liaison Legacy” in Tennis, Renée said of her sex reassignment surgery: “I wish that there could have been an alternative way … I would have been better off staying the way I was – a totally intact person. I know deep down that I’m a second-class woman”.
“I get a lot of inquiries from would-be transsexuals, but I don’t want anyone to hold me out as an example to follow. Today there are better choices, including medication, for dealing with the compulsion to cross-dress and the depression that comes from gender confusion. As far as being fulfilled as a woman, I’m not as fulfilled as I dreamed of being. I get a lot of letters from people who are considering having this operation … and I discourage them all.”
Renée’s early life experiences may have been the source of her gender confusion. Her autobiography Second Serve tells of a stressful childhood with a dominating psychiatrist mother who was disappointed that her first child was a girl. Richard’s older sister “Mike” was a tomboy who dressed her little brother in girls’ underwear, forced his penis into painful inversions and encouraged him to explore her body. Richard began to cross-dress in secret and invented an alternative identity named Renée.
In adulthood, Richard Raskind went to Yale medical school and became an eye surgeon, served in the US Navy, married, fathered a child and competed in US Open tennis. Then, after 10 years of psychoanalysis and a divorce, Richard (41) underwent surgery to become Renée. She now warns others with gender dysphoria not to take this drastic step if at all possible.
More more, see FamilyVoice VoxBrief The ‘Transgender’ Problem