HAGS is a brand new podcast aimed at deconstructing and demystifying the ways society values women. Check out the HAGS site for full episodes, suggested reading, and our Bad Ass Bitch of the week.



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“We realize the importance of our voices only when we are silenced.”







Today’s Boss Ass Bitch is Renee Richards, famed tennis player of the 1970s, current day Ophthalmologist, and  one of the first professional athletes to identify as transgender.

She was born on August 19, 1934, in New York City, and raised, as she put it, as "a nice Jewish boy" in Forest Hills, Queens.  Her father David Raskind was an orthopedic surgeon, and her mother was one of the first female psychiatrists in the United States, in addition to being a professor at Columbia University.

Richards attended Horace Mann School and excelled as the wide receiver for the football team, the pitcher for the baseball team, and on the tennis and swim teams. Her baseball skills even led to an invitation to join the New York Yankees, but she decided to focus on tennis. After high school Richards attended Yale University and was captain of the tennis team. 

During college Richards began dressing as a woman, She named her female persona Renée, which is French for reborn. She struggled with sexual identity created sexual confusion, depression, and suicidal tendencies.  She began seeing Dr. Charles Ihlenfeld, disciple of Harry Benjamin who specialized in endocrinology, transsexualism, and sexual reassignment.  Upon seeing Dr. Ihlenfeld she began getting hormone injections with the long-term hope for a life change. In the mid-1960s she traveled in Europe dressed as a woman, intending to go to North Africa to see Georges Burou, a famous gynecological surgeon at Clinique Parc in Casablanca, Morocco, regarding sex reassignment surgery; however, she ultimately decided against it and returned to New York. Richards married model Barbara Mole in June 1970, and together they had a son Nicholas in 1972. They were divorced in 1975.In the early 1970s, Richards resolved to undergo sex reassignment and was referred to surgeon Roberto C. Granato, Sr., by Harry Benjamin, successfully transitioning in 1975. After surgery, Richards went to Newport Beach, California, and started working as an ophthalmologist in practice with another doctor.

Following Richards' disclosure of her gender reassignment, the United States Tennis Association (USTA), the Women's Tennis Association (WTA), and the United States Open Committee (USOC) required all female competitors to verify their sex with a Barr body test of their chromosomes. Richards applied to play in the US Open in 1976 as a woman but refused to take the test, and thus was not allowed to compete in the U.S. Open, Wimbledon, or the Italian Open in the summer of 1976.

Richards then sued the USTA in New York state court, alleging discrimination by gender in violation of the New York Human Rights Law. She asserted that participating in the tournament would constitute "an acceptance of her right to be a woman." Some USTA members felt that others would undergo sex change to enter women's tennis. Sports Illustrated called Richards an "extraordinary spectacle", and characterized reactions to her as "varying from astonishment to suspicion, sympathy, resentment, and more often than not, utter confusion." The USOC stated "there is competitive advantage for a male who has undergone a sex change surgery as a result of physical training and development as a male."Richards finally agreed to take the Barr body test. The test results were ambiguous. She refused to take it again and therefore was barred from play.

On August 16, 1977, Judge Alfred M. Ascione found in Richards' favor. He ruled: "This person is now a female" and that requiring Richards to pass the Barr body test was "grossly unfair, discriminatory and inequitable, and a violation of her rights."He further ruled that the USTA intentionally discriminated against Richards, and granted Richards an injunction against the USTA and the USOC, allowing her to play in the US Open. Richards lost to Virginia Wade in the first round of the singles competition, but made it to the finals in doubles.

After four years of playing tennis, she decided to return to her medical practice, which she moved to New York. She then became the surgeon director of ophthalmology and head of the eye-muscle clinic at the Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital.

Clearly, Renee Richards is a Boss Ass Bitch. 

December 4,  2018



“We liked to be known as the clever girls. When we decorated our hands with henna for holidays and weddings, we drew calculus and chemical formulae instead of flowers and butterflies.” 



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