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izabeachgirl in trans_review

Tell it to the mayor

From England: Cambridge Evening News, UK

Pride as duo take chains of office

MESSAGES of support have flooded in for Jenny Bailey and Jennifer
Liddle as they become Cambridge's first transgender mayor and mayoress
today (Thursday, 24 May).

The couple yesterday (Wednesday, 23 May) told the News their amazing
love story following their transition from men to women 15 years ago.

Both were born as boys but felt increasingly uncomfortable in their
male bodies as they got older and went through gender reassignment in
their 30s.

They met while undergoing hormone replacement therapy and live
together, work together, served on Cambridge City Council together and
brought up Jenny's two boys with her ex-wife.

Jennifer was the first to go into politics, elected to the city
council in 2000, and Jenny followed suit in 2002. Both served East
Chesterton ward and became executive councillors but found the
pressure of high-level politics hard to juggle with work and family life.

Jenny has spent the past 12 months as deputy mayor to Mayor Coun
Robert Dryden, while Jennifer decided to take a break from politics
and stood down from the council at the local elections in May.

Jenny's ex-wife, who remains a close friend, said she was "incredibly
proud" of her former husband becoming mayor as the city celebrates 800
years of the role.

Today (Thursday, 24 May), civic leaders joined together in supporting
Jenny and Jennifer as they take office.

Coun Ian Nimmo-Smith, leader of the city council, said: "We are
looking forward to supporting Jenny as she takes the leading role in
Cambridge's civic life for the coming year.

"Jenny has fulfilled the role of deputy mayor in the past year with
great distinction, and we already know that she will make a really
great mayor.

"We will also enjoy welcoming back Jenny's partner Jennifer Liddle in
a new public role following her recent retirement from the council."

He added: "Jenny has served the city at the highest level as executive
councillor for planning and transport from 2004 to 2006.

"In that role she has successfully undertaken several important
initiatives to enhance and protect the environment of Cambridge."

Coun Marion Holness, who will nominate Jenny as mayor, said:

"Jenny has worked hard as a ward councillor in East Chesterton since
2002, including the achievement of the new community centre on Brown's
Field.

"She has developed very good relations with the local neighbourhood
policing teams, in particular supporting them in their successful work
with young people in the area.

"When concerns arose with the reliability of bus services, Jenny
helped local residents to organise a BusWatch scheme and used results
to negotiate successfully with Stagecoach for improvements to the East
Chesterton bus services.

"In spite of being a very busy ward councillor, Jenny has always found
time to contribute more, taking on the role of executive councillor
and for the past twelve months that of deputy mayor.

"Her hands-on approach is exemplified by the voluntary work she does
at Jimmy's night shelter.

There she is one of a number of St John Ambulance team volunteers who
take care of homeless people who would otherwise be sleeping rough.

"I know she is keen to use her year as mayor to speak up for the many
people who give their time to work for charities and other good
causes. I can think of no-one better suited to doing that than someone
who is a volunteer herself.

"All in all, Jenny has a great deal to offer Cambridge, and will
enrich our civic life in the coming year."

Coun Dryden, outgoing Mayor of Cambridge, said: "Jenny's been my
deputy for the last year. She has done a good job, and I wish her well
as mayor for the next year.

She's good at listening to people, which will serve her well."

Coun Ben Bradnack, deputy leader of the Labour group on the city
council, said: "I'm sure she will be an absolutely excellent mayor."

Rob Hammond, chief executive of the council, said: "I'm confident
Jenny will be a great ambassador for Cambridge.

"She is able and experienced, and her nomination for mayor has support
from both political parties on the council.

"She will bring high levels of commitment and energy to the role."

He added: "I am aware that there will be interest in Jenny's male to
female gender reassignment.

"It is the council's firm view that someone's gender and sexual
orientation has no bearing on their suitability to hold public office.

"What matters is the person's ability to do the job and to do it well,
and that is how they should be judged.

"We believe it is wrong to discriminate on the grounds of a person's
gender or sexuality."

David Howarth, MP for Cambridge, said: "Jenny has been an excellent
ward councillor for many years, and before that she was very active in
the community, especially in local schools.

"I think she will be a very good mayor, and I wish her well for the year."

Michelle Bridgman, project manager at the Gender Trust, a charity
which supports transgender people, said: "I think what's more
important is whether they will do a good job or not as mayor and mayoress.

"They should be judged on their ability to do that rather than the
history of their gender identity.

"I think that's a far more valid stance."

Jenny and Jennifer told the News yesterday (Wednesday, 23 May) how
they had sought medical help for their condition but struggled to find
the advice and support they needed.

At the age of 24, Jenny met the woman she would later marry - hoping
that settling down and starting a family would become "normal".

The couple were married at Cambridge Register Office and had two boys,
now aged 18 and 20. One lives with Jenny and Jennifer, while the other
lives with their mother.

Gradually though, Jenny increasingly felt that she wanted to make the
transition to being a woman, and the two split up.

While she was undergoing hormone replacement therapy she met Jennifer
through a friend in London, and the pair hit it off straight away.
Jennifer was also in the midst of transition.

The couple, both software engineers, live together and started their
own business, JSquared, in 1994.

Spitfire pilot Robert led way

THE first British male to female transsexual was Roberta Cowell who
underwent surgery in 1951.

A married father of two, Robert Cowell was a Spitfire pilot during the
Second World War and was taken prisoner, being held in Stalag Luft 1.

After the war, his marriage broke down and he sought psychiatric help,
which resulted in him being given female hormones, followed by surgery
to become female.

Transgender people suffer from gender dysphoria - a feeling of being
born in the wrong body.

According to the Gender Trust, the number of people suffering from
gender dysphoria is not known, mainly due to the social stigma
attached, but it is estimated one in 10,000 people have male to female
transsexuality. Rates for female to male transsexuals are lower.

Medical intervention and understanding of cases of gender dysphoria
have been gradually improving since the 1930s, when effective
vaginoplasty was developed along with synthetic oestrogens.

Treatment involves hormone therapy and surgical reconstruction and may
include counselling and other psychotherapeutic approaches. Speech
therapy and facial surgery may be appropriate for some male to
females, and most will need electrolysis to remove beard growth and
other body hair.

Transsexuals are generally referred for treatment by their doctor and
undergo psychological evaluation.

They are also required to undergo a "real life experience" - a period
of living in their new gender in everyday life both at home and at work.

Those changing from male to female will take a course of female
hormones, oestrogen, similar to those used in the contraceptive pill,
while people changing from female to male will be given the male
hormone testosterone.

Male to females will experience breast development, their hair and
nails will grow longer, and they will go through mood swings.
Gradually skin becomes softer, and body fat is redistributed, while
alignment of the hips shifts.

Many transgender people feel that transition actually takes place
before surgery.

As well as genital reconstruction, the physical switch from male to
female can involve breast implants, adams apple and facial
reconstruction and tracheal shave to alter the voice.


24 May 2007

Cambridge Newspapers Ltd ©2005

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