Sports History This Week

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Trans Rights Take Center Court at the U.S. Open

Season 1

August 27, 1976. Renee Richards expects to play tennis at this year’s U.S. Open. Coming off several impressive performances in top amateur tournaments, she wants to try her hand against the best competition in the world. But today, shortly before the tournament is set to begin, the USTA bars her from playing on the basis of her gender identity. A media firestorm and a precedent-setting lawsuit soon followed, changing the landscape for trans athletes for generations to come. Why did the U.S. Open initially decide to keep Renee Richards from competing, only to reverse its decision 11 months later? And how does her landmark court case continue to impact trans athletes and other marginalized groups to this day?


Special thanks to our guests; Joanna Harper, Ph.D researcher in transgender athletic performance at Loughborough University, author Sporting Gender: The History, Science, and Stories of Transgender and Intersex Athletes; Karleigh Webb, writer and contributor for SB Nation’s Outsports.com and host of the Trans Sporter Room Podcast; and Schuyler Bailar, a gender literacy and transgender advocate and educator, and creator of LaneChanger, an online gender literacy learning series.

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