Véronique Françoise Caroline Renard (born 26 May 1965 in Jutphaas, the Netherlands) is a Dutch author. She is also known as Pantau, a name that was adopted after meeting the Dalai Lama at an audience at his home in McLeodganj, Dharamsala, India in 2000. Renard was raised and educated in the Netherlands. She is the daughter of Annie Garda Van Unen, a former senior accountant of the Breda Candy Company FAAM, and Wilhelmus (Wim) Gerardus Renard, a businessman who founded the REACS Company in 1956. Renard is a descendant of the renowned German composer/conductor Paul Albin Stenz who was awarded the Gold Medal of Orange-Nassau by Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands. One year prior to his death in 1918 he was naturalized as a Dutch citizen. Renard’s grandfather, Johannes (Paul) Renard was a cityscape painter in Rotterdam. Renard speaks (in order of fluency) Dutch, English, German, French, Thai and Tibetan. In 1982, at the age of 17, Renard transitioned with the full support of her family, friends and the people in her hometown. Renard’s mother renamed her Véronique. In 1983, Renard was granted permission by a court in Utrecht to change her legal male given names into female given names. Renard added her second name Françoise (after her best friend), and third name Caroline (after Caroline Cossey).
Initially unaware of the phenomenon of transsexualism and Gender Reassignment Surgery, Renard conveys in her 2007 memoir that the international media attention around Cossey in 1982 helped her to self-diagnose her own gender identity disorder. The day after reading about Cossey in a Dutch tabloid, Renard consulted her GP and shortly after the Amsterdam Gender Team. Renard was diagnosed with Klinefelter’s syndrome, having 47 chromosones (XXY). Renard started Hormone Replacement Therapy shortly after. Her physical transition which was completed 18 months later in 1984. Renard was one of the first 150 persons to receive contemporary Gender Reassignment Surgery in the Netherlands. In 1984, at age 18, Renard learned from the Amsterdam Gender Team that she was most likely the youngest person in the world to receive complete contemporary Gender Reassignment Surgery. In October that year, the Dutch Government granted Renard permission to have her legal gender corrected on her birth certificate. Renard is most likely the first post-operative MtF transsexual in the world to be legally recognized as a female. Fearing rejection and discrimination, Renard never volunteered to mention her gender reassignment to friends, colleagues and lovers. Renard started her career in 1982 working for a local travel agency. Thereafter she was employed as a management assistant with Philips Electronics and Mercedes Benz. As from 1984 she held various functions with the University of Utrecht.
In 1987 she moved on by working as the personal assistant of the Vice President of Amdahl Netherlands. In 1989 Renard was hired by Amdahl’s main competitor IBM. As she felt dissatisfied with IBM’s corporate atmosphere, she found new employment with TNT-XP. Renard left the company after 6 months. In 1990, while working as a temp for ExpoConsult, she was contacted by a business partner of ExpoConsult, the US-based publisher Conway Data Inc. The president asked her to set up a European branch office, launch a European edition of their business magazine Site Selection and represent the organization at international events. She also functioned as the administrator of IDRC Europe (Industrial Development Research Council). In 1994 Renard left the company in order to concentrate on her academic studies. She attained a Ph.D. in Dutch Literature in 1997 and started working as an office manager for Lucent Technologies. Five months later, Renard was informed by one of her colleagues that there were rumors within the organization regarding Renard’s alleged transsexualism and upcoming lay-off. Renard threatened Lucent to take them to court, accusing them of discrimination. The dispute was settled out of court. Renard’s last employment started in January 1999 as an office and relocation manager with Davilex, a fast growing computer game company which was in the process of building a new head office. Days after Renard successfully completed the company’s relocation project, the president asked her to leave the company. Renard received word that the board of directors found out about her transsexualism. Renard threatened Davilex to take them to court and make a major media hype out of her dismissal. Davilex and Renard’s lawyers eventually settled the case out of court.
In the spring of 2000, Renard moved to the hometown of the exiled Dalai Lama in the Indian Himalayas. There she focused on her activities as a writer and pro-Tibet activist. Concerned with the well-being of the Tibetan people and preservation of Tibetan culture, Renard hopes to create more awareness regarding the Tibetan plight by means of the written word. In May 2000, Renard established the Pantau Foundation to raise funds and help destitute Tibetan refugee children living in exile in India. Together with her Dharamsala-based spokesperson, Jonathan Blair, and New York-based friends Bobby John Parker Jr. and Sebastian Bond, the foundation supports a growing number of Tibetan children. In 2000 and 2001 she published three books in English in India and Nepal regarding the Tibetan Freedom Struggle (Pantau in Dharamsala, The Fire of Hell, Pantau in India). A Dutch version of her autobiography Pantau in India has also been published in the Netherlands and Belgium in 2003. In 2006, Pantau in India has also been published in English in the United States. In June 2007, Renard published her follow-up memoir, Pholomolo - No Man No Woman. This book focuses on her experiences with Gender Identity Disorder. After living in the Himalayas for nearly seven years, Renard permanently moved to Thailand in October 2006. In November 2009, Renard signed a book deal with the American publisher PD Publishing. Currently, Renard is carrying out research in China and Thailand for a new fiction novel.