• Myles Shin

Today I Read... About the First Transgender Athlete

Whoa. I read a magazine for the first time in so long today. It was really weird but interesting. I actually really enjoy reading physical copies of writing compared to reading it online. To think that I haven't read a physical book/magazine blows my mind. I recently renewed my Sports Illustrated subscription and now started getting magazines every month again.

I read it from cover to cover and read this really interesting story about Renee Clark, a former professional tennis player. Clark used to be Richard Raskind and played in the men's pro tennis circuit before she changed her gender. She was a phenomenal player as a man and as a women. A Yale grad who also enlisted in the Navy, Raskind was a phenomenal talent. He was a well-established tennis player as well as a surgeon with a beautiful model wife. But, something just wasn't right; he would struggle with his gender and would constantly dress up as a woman in the privacy of his own room.

Eventually, he finally decided to do what he felt like he needed to do: become a woman. At the age of 41 in 1975, Raskind officially changed his gender and became a woman known as Renee Clark. Clark entered the women's tennis circuit and was playing at a very high level. However, people found out that Clark was formerly a male and became a huge controversy.

Should Clark be allowed to play with women? Is it fair to the other women to be playing against a "man"? To be fair, Clark was still 6'2 and had all of the testosterone and muscle she had when she was Richard Raskind. Everyone was split over this. One group thought that Clark would be too dominant, another thought that Clark was a woman so she should be able to play, and the final group didn't want Clark to play because they thought it would set a precedent. This debacle went to New York Supreme Court in 1977. The court made their decision; they would let Clark play.

As a straight 17 year old male, this story really intrigues me. I can't relate to what Clark had to go through to even be allowed to play as who she felt she was, but it is really inspiring to see her fight for what she thought was right. I have major respect for Renee Clark and I hope that others who are in the same position will do the same. However, there does need to be regulation and if a man converts to a woman, they should have to make sure their testosterone levels are at those of a woman.

Sources: Wertheim, Jon L. “Gender's Game.” Sports Illustrated, 8 July 2019, pp. 88–92.