Tuesday, 1 November 2011


In an article about the Independent on SundayPink List’ (which recognizes people within the LGBTQ community), Nat Titman writes:

I would love to read other people’s Inspiration Lists, especially international lists and lists covering queer and trans* communities of which I’m not a member. I encourage you all to thank everyone who’s inspired you, made it easier to be queer, trans* or gender nonconforming or helped you or your communities in practical ways.

Right, so...

To a large extent I've already mentioned many of my own inspirations here, so I'll make this list a bit more specific, noting a few personal reasons – while not discounting other things they may have done – these people have my gratitude.

In no particular order, they are:

Eddie Izzard – for doing so much to destigmatize transvestism.

Vicky Lee – for opening the pre-internet door to the tranny subculture.

Richard O'Brien – for the song Sweet Transvestite (especially as performed by Tim Curry – such attitude!)

Julia Grant – for the BBC documentary ‘A Change of Sex’.

Ian McKellen (famous relative) – for coming out on Wogan in 1988.

Leslie Feinberg – for hir prideful book Transgender Warriors.

Kate Bornstein and Riki Wilchins – for their playful gender theory.

Dorothy Allison and Patrick Califia – for the courage of their writing.

Stephen Whittle – for his activism and intelligence.

Okay, I could add many more names to this list – many more femmes, for instance – and perhaps at a later date I will. But for now, those eleven will do. Thank you to every one of them.


  1. I remembered the George/Julia program - it kinda scared me at the time- mostly because the psych seemed to have a really critical disdain for Julia (the tone implied mental illness/deviance) and partly because the rules for being a transsexual were presented as very rigid and I wasn't sure I qualified (not least because I didn't find guys attractive and they weren't up for creating a lesbian transwoman). Julia's story post surgery is possibly even more extraordinary than the part we saw in the documentary.
    I too am grateful to Eddie Izzard for showing that femaleness can be presented on a male frame in a way that is aesthetically pleasing. Izzard of course would have self defined in a time before 'transgender' properly existed as an available identity.

  2. Hi Alex :)

    Yes, the psychiatrist (John Randell) was dreadful, wasn't he. So dreadful that we all still remember him 30 years on.

    But those original programmes... Damn. I can still feel how important, how necessary, it was to me at the time that I watch them, which I did upstairs in my bedroom on a small portable black and white telly with the door closed. Julia's story never spoke to me directly (I'm not transsexual); it was just that it was something about — to my sheltered, teenage perspective — a man "changing" to a woman and I was desperately hungry for anything along those lines.

    As for Julia's later life: I watched all the follow-up programmes in the 1990s of course; and I have her book too.