16 Remarkable Historical Figures who were Transgender
16 Remarkable Historical Figures who were Transgender

16 Remarkable Historical Figures who were Transgender

Natasha sheldon - December 31, 2018

16 Remarkable Historical Figures who were Transgender
Renee Richards after her defeat by Virginia Wade at 1977 US Open. Screenshot.AP Archive: YouTube

1. Renee Richards: The First Transgender Woman to Play a Professional sport.

Renee Richards is a world-renowned eye surgeon and in the 1970s was a famous international female tennis player. However, until she underwent gender reassignment surgery at the age of 41, Renee was a 6ft 2in surgeon called Richard Raskin. As Raskin, Renee had captained the Yale tennis team and won several tennis titles. However, despite marrying and fathering a son, Renee had always been conflicted about her sexual identity; a conflict she did not resolve until 1975 when her physical gender finally became female.

In 1976, Richards began to play tennis as a woman. However, her birth sex was quickly outed, and the US open promptly tried to stop her from competing as a woman by introducing a chromosome screening procedure. So Richards decided to sue. The USTA lawyer George Gowan attempted to argue that allowing Richards to play would be opening the floodgates to “worldwide experiments, especially in the Iron-Curtain countries, to produce athletic stars by means undreamed of a few years ago.” However, the judge observed there were relatively few athletes in Richard’s position – and ruled in her favor, allowing Richards to compete in the 1977 US Open. The judgment made Richards a trailblazer against transgender discrimination.

Where Do We Get this stuff? Here are our sources:

History Collection – 11 Remarkable Transgender People from History

National Geographic Channel – The Short Reign of Elagabalus, Rome’s Hard-Partying Emperor

Historic UK – Moll Frith

“Why tennis’s Renée Richards, the first transgender woman to play Professional sport, matters today”, Simon Briggs, The Telegraph, March 30, 2018.

The Newgate Calendar: Comprising Interesting Memoirs of the Most Notorious Characters Who Have Been Convicted of Outrages on the Laws of England Since the Commencement of the Eighteenth Century; with Occasional Anecdotes and Observations, Speeches, Confessions, and Last Exclamations of Sufferers, Volume2, Andrew Knapp and William Baldwin, J Robins and Company, 1825.

“When Jennie came marching home – An Irishwoman’s Diary on Albert Cashier and the US civil war”, Nora-Ide McAuliffe, The Irish Times, April 10, 2018

Crosscut – Meet Harry Allen, Transgender At-Risk Youth of Yesteryear

The Guardian – Gerda Wegener: ‘The Lady Gaga of the 1920s’

The Irish Times – Ireland’s Remarkable Trans Pioneer: ‘People Thought I Was A Woman, But I Was Just Me’

Scientific America – The Surprisingly Old Science of Living as Transgender

“How Catherine Madden Fell Victim to Strong Drink; Why Nell Pickerell Will Not Wear Women’s Clothing”, The Spokesman-Review, October 22, 1911

“Nell Pickerell Denies Her Sex; Woman Who Dresses in Male Attire Starts Story She is a “Real Man”; Rumor Causes Sensation; Sheriff Stone Brands Statement an Untrue Fabrication Result of Liquor,” The Spokesman-Review, November 22, 1911.

New York Times – Overlooked No More: Roberta Cowell, Trans Trailblazer, Pilot and Auto Racer

“Meet Nell Pickerell, transgender at-risk youth of yesteryear; She lived a century ago – as a man. But Nell’s story rings true today and parallels the experience of many Northwest street kids”, Knute Berger, Crosscut.com, June 30, 2014

Anderson, Lucy Hicks [Tobias Lawson] (1886-1954), Kevin Leonard, Black Past.org

BBC Sports – LGBT+ History Month: Renee Richards’ Journey from Tennis Outcast To Trans Pioneer

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