I don’t usually comment on trans-related news articles. Normally they’re either not newsworthy, or the news is designed to attack, provoke or uncover, or it’s simply misrepresented. And they usually lead to nasty arguments in the online comments pages. If you’d like to follow trans (or, more properly, LGBT) news items, Emily was in touch last week and you can link to a large number of them via her blog: http://emilysvirtualrocket.blogspot.co.uk/
However, on this occasion I will make an exception because the matter is much closer to home, and also concerns a public figure, Kellie Maloney, formerly Frank, a boxing promoter who has started speaking to the press about her transition. Good luck to Kellie, whom I admire for being frank (rather than Frank) about what it is like to be trans in a macho world like boxing and having to suppress your real self to feel successful in such contexts. But my friend Simone (we generally know her here by her other name of Holly, she of the TGirl bar in 2011 and 2013) has, in the light of Kellie’s comments, spoken to the Daily Telegraph about life when transitioning.
It’s a decent enough article as these things go. Simone’s thoughts really caught my attention not just because she’s a friend of mine because they tie in closely what I have blogged about, both in the past and just recently. Most immediately and obviously, for me at least, is that fact that, whilst staying with me over the weekend of the 2011 TGirl bar she then went to work on the Monday sporting the beautiful baked-on nails that she’d had done for the event and didn’t want to remove since the Enigma Ball was happening the next weekend and she would have had to have had them done all over again. This was a dilemma because, obviously, spending the intervening week at work with them on would definitely ‘out’ her in the male-dominated world of plumbing. We discussed this at some length and I suggested that, annoying as it was, she should remove them: she’s the boss so it would be a risk to business, etc. But she decided to keep them on… and the rest is history! I touched on this event in the last paragraph of my report on the TGirl Bar of 2011:
Simone says in her interview that transitioning has not, in fact, damaged her business and her staff have been supportive, so I’m happy she proved me wrong. That said, I am always ready to point out that the joy that often accompanies transition can gloss over practical points. On a more cynical level one could point out here that there is a recession on and so staff may prefer to keep their jobs rather than fuss about the boss being unusual. And holding a royal warrant may also be a boost to business, too. Not to mention the long establishment of the firm. Transitioning at work is a serious and difficult issue for some, but others get lucky. To those who feel full transition is the way forward, I’d advise not to underestimate the difficulties or gloss over that people may express prejudice in many ways, often very subtle ones. Neither should you let your excitement for your transition distract you from the day-to-day issues we all face when trying to progress any career.
It’s not really so unusual these days for someone to let others know that they are trans, which is why it bugs me that the media still harp on about transition and trans life, cross dressing and related subjects so much. OK, the number of trans people in the public eye is small, but it’s hardly news any more. Well, I would have said not, but obviously newspaper editors disagree. Simone’s interview is a decent summary. Just one thing, though:
“It’s a single operation, and two and a half hours later it’s over, the job’s done.”
I must disagree. Please read my previous post here. If you have surgery and take hormones you will spend many difficult months recovering from your operation and have a lifetime of maintenance work to do. This is not like having a filling at the dentists.
I’ll finish by quoting Simone's wise words here:
“You live your life but once: would you live your life unhappily for the benefit of others, or would it be better to live as happy a life as you can for yourself? Because if you’re happy then everyone else around you is too, usually.”