So. Another personality - a retired boxing promotor this time - hits the news as she reveals that she has commenced transition. She is 61. She's actually younger than me. She has become Kellie Maloney.
I have to say, I'd not been aware of her existence. Considering my lack of interest in all things sporting, that's no insult, it just reveals the vast extent of what I simply don't know about. I looked her up now:
# She had an Irish family background.
# When young, she (then of course regarded as 'he') trained without enthusiasm as a Catholic priest.
# Drawn into boxing, she became a professional trainer, and later a manager and promotor. A long career followed.
# She married. There were two children.
# She managed the famous heavyweight boxer Lennox Lewis during Lennox's early years from 1989 to 2001. (Now even I have heard of Lennox Lewis!)
# In 2004, she stood as a UKIP candidate in the Mayor of London elections, with the slogan Stop The Career Politicians, and offering voters these things:
- increase the number of police officers; decrease the amount of political correctness in policing; support victims of crime.
- abolish the Congestion Charge; oppose speed cameras and speed humps.
- create a 24-hour transport system; extend the London Underground into South East London.
- put more conductors on buses; provide free bus travel for under-18s on the way to school.
- stop selling school playing fields; increase funding for youth clubs; fund competitive sports for young people, including a London Youth Games.
- fund Mayoral Scholarships for disadvantaged children to go to university.
- allow businesses to open for 24 hours; give assistance to businesses in deprived areas; preserve and encourage all London’s street markets.
- celebrate St George’s Day with an Annual Parade.
- support the 2012 London Olympic Bid and other international events; market London internationally.
- reduce the Mayor’s take of Council Tax.
- abolish the Greater London Authority.
- campaign for a higher State Pension.
- campaign for tighter immigration controls.
- provide more affordable homes for young British people; regenerate council estates.
She came fourth in the first round, gaining nearly 116,000 votes, or 6.2% of the votes. There was some controversy about remarks she made that seemed critical of gay persons.
# She (still of course regarded as 'he') was voted Boxing Promotor of the Year in April 2009.
# She had promoted Darren Sutherland, another fine boxer, from 2008. Sutherland was found dead, hanged, in September 2009. Kellie discovered the body.
# Around this very time, she suffered a serious heart attack.
# In the General Election of 2010, she contested the Barking constituency in East London, as before as a UKIP candidate. In the run-up to this, she gave a revealing interview to a reporter from The Independent, which you can find here: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/profiles/frank-maloney-being-frank-1863139.html. The stated main reason was to take on the BNP. Had she won, the boxing career would still have continued. She did not win.
# She retired from boxing promotion in 2013.
# She announced the fact that her transition was in progress in August 2014. The Guardian report about it is here: http://www.theguardian.com/sport/2014/aug/10/kellie-maloney-boxing-transgender.
These are the bare bones of what is clearly a complex life.
Kellie hid her gender issue very well indeed, and the transition announcement must come as a shock to anyone who knew her in the past, in particular those in the boxing world. But it's just another instance of 'never judge a book by its covers'. Gender is in the mind, how you feel about yourself, how you best fit in, what your most appropriate and productive life role really is, what your real identity is. It doesn't depend on flaps of skin and chromosomes, or past behaviour that was shaped by a mistaken notion of who you were.
Like Kellie, I found myself addressing transition only once retired. That was how it worked out. In many respects, it is the best time to turn your life around. There are no work or professional issues to overcome. Even if you were once famous, it is possible to do what you want without the media chasing you for a story. Nowadays, anyway, gender reassignment, and all it entails, is not the story it was. It doesn't sell so well.
So, once started, you can pitch in and get the physical transformation done as fast as you like - or at least as fast as you can afford. There is mention of the NHS in the news reports, but I suspect that Kellie, like me, has put up her own money to get things moving. One hint of this is the fact that she has already been on hormones for months. And hair-removal has started. That doesn't happen nearly so soon if you rely totally on the NHS.
The downside to late transitioning is the havoc it can cause. Her marriage is over, for instance - a very, very familiar and sad outcome to transitioners who embark on their journey only when deep into adulthood.
I haven't made any attempt to judge Kellie Maloney, not even to pass comment on her political leanings. That seems the best thing to do. I am concerned for how it turns out for her. She faces a long, hard haul. It will take a lot of effort to make the transition a complete success. It's a very human wish, to be one's real self. I wish her very good luck with it.