Monday, 19 October 2009

Trans woman captains winning team on University Challenge!

Tonight's TV was quite enthralling (for a change).

I caught a bit of University Challenge just before settling down to Masterchef, and I was thrilled to see a trans woman (Olivia Woolley) captaining a winning team (University College, London). They won 220 points to 145.

What a great way to fly the flag for transgendered people everywhere. No Timmy the Tranny here, Ms Moir!

However, I knew what the general reaction might be, and sure enough when I Googled 'university challenge woolley' afterwards I found two forums (better say fora) - Digitalspy and The Student Room - that came up (or should it be down?) to expectations. The first contained a few ill-informed remarks, but a contributor managed to educate them effectively. However The Student Room forum attracted a large number of 'laughed my head off' comments from silly young men (not the women, mark you) that the best efforts of the moderators did not quell. Tossers.

Masterchef has become compelling viewing for me, and we're down to the three finalists. Who am I rooting for? All are nice people, but Marianne gets my vote. She is consistently the cook with the best flavours and needs only to make her presentation sparkle.

Then I switched over to Age Eight and wanting a Sex Change. It highlighted some important issues for transgendered kids to think about, but I thought the programme makers had sympathy with the kids and weren't presenting a pre-digested judgement for tut-tutting viewers. I was touched when one of the kids, Kyla, comforted her sobbing mother. (I wish I could have done that with my own mum) I must say, the parents were so supportive and accepting. As one said, despite the transition, they still had a child, loving and alive, and not one made an outcast, or driven to suicide because forbidden treatment.

Sigh. I wish things had been like this in the 1960s. No such concept as 'gender dysphoria' then, no way even of articulating what the trouble was. No internet, no NHS leaflets, no diagnosis, no treatment, just a few salacious or flippant films, and leering tabloid articles. And people like Danny la Rue to muddy the waters.

But I had reason for satisfaction today. I went to the big Marks and Spencer store at Shoreham and got called 'Madam' three times, including an embarrassing moment when I touched a rack of clothing and it fell to the floor. And I tried on two coats, two miniskirts and some slim-leg jeans in the ladies' changing room with no difficulty whatever. Granted, I was in my warpaint, wearing leggings, black mini and a green top with a bow, and was booted. But I had to speak, and I said much, but even so nobody cried 'There's Timmy!' QED, I think.

Off to Suffolk tomorrow for six days. So there'll probably be nothing on the blog for a little while.


  1. Just about to watch the University Challenge episode on iPlayer :-)

    Those Student fora are a snake pit. I rolled my sleeves up after the first round and took some of them on. The rage was amazing, and some of the 'students' got VERY VERY Cross with me indeed. Mind you I went in, told them I was a TS woman and then told them they were a bunch of bigoted morons.

    I think I'll save my breath this time. Ms Woolley has more intellect in her fingernails than these scumbags. So, who is the last laugh on, really?

  2. Well said, Lucy and Josephine. Why oh why can't people just accept Olivia as a person without expecting her to conform to their stone-age attitudes?

  3. It's rather a pity that students aren't still the elitist but earnestly intellectual sort they were up to 1970 or so. I can't imagine the young marxist-leninist-maoist revolutionaries I rubbed shoulders with at grammar school sneering at Olivia. And most definitely not the much earlier circle of Oxbridge writers and artists in which the Sitwells, Graves, Waugh and Auden were prominent.

    Setting politics aside (let's not go there at all) it is arguable that the opening-up of higher education to all and sundry has not made a balanced and thoughtful attitude the general rule, nor improved manners and tolerance to any great degree. Young people don't take up causes any more, don't have a vision, and don't understand the rules of debate. They just want to piss around and scoff, because there's no fantastic future in store for them, is there?

    I rather take a classical view that 'education' is not exams and learning how to appear cool. It's much more about broadening the mind, losing the rough edges, discovering the finer and deeper aspects of life, and celebrating diversity. But then I don't know nuffink.

  4. hope you don't mind - but you said all I wanted to so I linked to your blog from mine. ;-)

  5. I have what rather pretentiously gets called Cognitive Dissonance when I think of the current crop of students, and where FE has gone.

    On the one hand, I applaud the opening up of opportunity to hundreds of thousands who were denied it before because Daddy didn't get them into the right school etc first (and I write as someone whose kids have been educated privately too).

    On the other hand, the mentality that says that everyone can be a Nobel Prize Winner and all you need to do it is one grade Z A level to get into the University of Chingford where you 'study' Media and clearly bonkers.

    Some of these 'students' who spend their times on these fora can barely write their name. Brideshead Revisited it ain't.

    I do hanker for an age in which Olivia's presence on a university quiz team would have produced respect and awe amongst her contemporaries. But hey, UCL seem to rate her :-) Because she's a pretty smart girl...and I'm really proud of her.


    Evelyn Waugh ;-)

    (Now where's that Teddy Bear dahling?)

  6. A clip of her in the first round attracted a lot of hits on youtube along with quite pathetic comments. I'm personally pleased that I knew several answers, though fear like my recent success on the Round Britain Quiz its more to do with dumbing down. :)
    As for the docu on c4 I wasn't pleased with how these delightful brave children and the subject in general were tackled.
    Have a good time away
    Lucy x


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