always fighting to be accepted

NPR: “…Well, I guess that’s right. I mean, I’ve always been competitive, and I’ve always been unafraid of taking on new challenges. But it was a very difficult decision, and when people talk about, oh, well, Renee Richards has all these regrets, they only think that it’s the regrets about the sex change, and that’s really not what the regrets are about. The regrets are about that decision to try to take the battle to the courts to be allowed to play and then actually playing as a professional. My closest friends and my father told me not to do it. They said the notoriety will wind down, you can go back to your nice new practice in Orange, California, with your new friends and your new life, and you’ll be able to do it. And I didn’t take their advice. You know, I’m a little bit, I don’t know, I accept challenges, I guess. And the other reason was because I was getting a lot of calls from people who were downtrodden, who were part of sexual minorities, who were part of ethnic minorities. And they said, Renee, you’ve got to go and do this. You’ve got to take up this fight. You can’t just take what they say and go back and lead a private life. And I remember one in particular. It was a woman who had been one of the umpires in the tournament out there in La Jolla who had known me in my former life in New York. And she said you’ve got to do this, because, you know, I’m part Filipino and my husband is black and the two sons I have that are tennis players are black, and we’re always fighting to be accepted. And you’ve got to show that if it’s your right to be accepted, to do what you are entitled to do, you’ve got to do it. So it was remarks from people like her – Virginia Glass(ph), I’ll never forget her – in La Jolla at that time that spurred me on to do it…” (‘The Second Half of My Life’)

Renée Richards is a successful physician and champion tennis player. Born in 1934 as Richard Raskind, Richards was thrust into the international spotlight by the disclosure of her sex reassignment surgery after she won a women’s tennis tournament. She is a graduate of Yale and the University of Rochester School of Medicine, an Eastern Tennis Hall of Fame inductee, and the author of Second Serve: The Renée Richards Story. She lives in New York State.


In 1976, Renée Richards is on the tennis court as a professional tennis player. The film flashes back to 1964, when Renée Richards is an eye surgeon named Richard Radley (both roles played by Redgrave). Radley has a successful career and a fiancée, but secretly cross-dresses at night. Unable to speak with his mother Sadie (Louise Fletcher), who is a psychiatrist, Radley consults his own psychiatrist, Dr. Beck (Martin Balsam), who advises him to grow a beard. This strategy works temporarily until Radley is drafted into the Navy, which does not allow beards. Following his discharge and a failed marriage, Radley undergoes gender reassignment surgery and becomes Renée. Renée relocates to California, resumes her career as a surgeon and begins dating. After playing in a local tennis tournament in La Jolla, Renée is outed as transgender by a television reporter. In the ensuing controversy, Renée takes the United States Tennis Association to court, where she secures her right to play professional tournament tennis as a woman without being subjected to chromosome testing (Wikipedia).

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