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Life of Renee Richards

It's hard to admit sometimes, but once in a while, I too feel the urge to flip through a People magazine and catch up the gossip. But hiding behind the pictures of Brittany's newly shaved head and the oscar winning styles of the March 5th, 2007 issue is a story on Renee Richards. Apparently the self named "most famous transsexual", I was intrigued. Renee, now 72, had a sex-change operation in 1975. I think the article in general is very good at telling the story with few stereotypical comments. It did however highlight a time in here life of developing a list of "masculine credentials". This was in terms of becoming an eye surgeon, attending Yale, and becoming a nationally ranked amatuer tennis player.
Renee underwent her sex-change during her marriage in which she had a son, and much of the article focuses on the scars coming out of that. Her son, now 35, has mostly come to terms and forgiveness with his mother, although he still calls her dad. Renee talks about her sarrow for the pain and confusion her son had to go through. Another aspect of the story is her life in the public eye. One of her main regrets is pursuing the right to play tennis as a woman, which she fought hard for and won. However, she is now telling her whole story in a book about the second half of her life.

I thought this article was really interesting, especially in terms of questioning sexuality and gender, and how the media and our cuture expects it to be. They talked about her unwillingness to speak to transgendered youth, because, she says, that "it would be presumptious of me to advise people". I think we see so much in the media these days of people speaking out and claiming to know how to help or persuade others because "they've been there". I think it's amazing that she doesn't assume she can help anyone else through such a dramatic change just because she did. This can almost relate back to the Hillary Clinton/Female, and Barack Obama/black issues. We/the media, assume that people that are not white males, have to focus on their differences and speak out for them, and focus on those issues.