This Day In History: August 27

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On August 27, 1976, the United States Tennis Association bars transgender athlete Renée Richards from competing in the U.S. Open as a woman, stating she must pass a chromosomal test. Richards fails the test, sues the USTA and wins the right a year later to compete via a New York Supreme Court ruling.

Richards was born Richard Raskind in 1934. In high school, Raskind was a four-sport athlete primarily focused on tennis. After high school, Raskind moved on to Yale, where she captained the men's tennis team.

In 1959, Raskind graduated from the University of Rochester Medical Center, specializing in ophthalmology. An ophthalmologist first, Raskind also played professional tennis, making the U.S. Open semifinals in 1972.

But Raskind fought an inner turmoil. "I had a very good and a very full life as Richard. But I had this other side of me which kept emerging," Richards told the BBC in 2015.

In 1975, Richards underwent a gender affirming surgery. Richards still wanted to play tennis, but the sport wasn't receptive. The court ruling made the USTA's objections moot.

"When an individual such as plaintiff, a successful physician, a husband and father, finds it necessary for his own mental sanity to undergo a sex reassignment," New York Supreme Court Judge Alfred Ascione wrote, "the unfounded fears and misconceptions of defendants must give way to the overwhelming medical evidence that this person is now female."

In 1981, Richards retired from tennis at age 47. 

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