ESPN Films: “Renee”

A few years ago I saw a great documentary called “Renee” at the Inside Out LGBT Film Festival about the tennis player Renee Richards. For a quick breakdown about Renee Richards and her story go here: http://espn.go.com/espn/commentary/story/_/id/7054897/christina-kahrl-renee-richards.

While Renee Richards story is a fascinating representation of gender and class norms, particularly in the early-to-mid 20th century, her story also represents one of the first public conversations in the United States of America re: transgender inclusion in professional sports, namely tennis. In the 1970s it was groundbreaking, utterly brave, to go up against any major sporting association for the right to compete professionally as a transgender person.

Renee Richards story is an important starting point when talking about gender binaries and professional sports. As gender binaries, strict scientific regulations, and social norms tend to dictate who can compete and where, transgender and genderqueer athletes challenge this.

Their challenge is not miniscule. It’s complicated and yet so revealing of local and international ideologies of gender.

Just go back to what happened to Caster Semenya and the IOC’s reaction to Semenya’s case.

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