lauren harries:my time is now
Lauren Harries was the first prominent Transgender personality within our mainstream media. Now ahead of her book release later this year, she tells it all in this first exclusive interview. Speaking out against Max Clifford's abuse, why Russell Brand is denying her claims and her personal view of Courtney Act.
You're known for being such an extravagant trans personality, do you feel like it's important for individual's like yourself to reach out to the public with your story?
Yes I do, people keep things bottled up and they dont speak out. When people do that then how can you change the world and people's perceptions? On the McCain's chip advert they say 'we don't care about gender'. It's starting, we're awakening now.
how does it feel knowing that you're a part of an on-going revolution?
It feels amazing! I'm very privileged to have a fan base that have grown up with me and who have become who they are along side me. I'd say that I would be the ambassador for people who are on the same journey I went through. My book will be coming out around Christmas, describing the operation and everything and unlike Caitlyn Jenner, I will be open about important things.
What do you think about Courtney Act winning Big Brother and India Willoughby's reaction towards Courtney?
Drag queens are lovely! My time in Leeds was filled with drag queens. The only thing is, with drag queens, specifically Courtney, is that she has the best of both worlds - she can be a woman when she wants and a man when she wants. I could never do that because I know I am a woman. Drag queens can be straight, gay, whatever they want! I think that Courtney is a woman in a very big way and I don't think she realises it yet. She was so confident on Big Brother and yet, she wasn't so confident as a man.
Do you think if there were more people such as yourself and Courtney when you were younger, that it would have helped your transitioning?
Courtney not so much, I never thought it was 'drag' - it was always real for me. I think you need someone to tell you that if you feel like you are not in the right gender and don't want to play with dolls or cars then you need to speak out and tell your parents. That is the time you can have your gender reassignment surgery, when you're younger so that you can live the life you want to.
Is that what you did?
I had my gender reassignment when I was 19. I wanted to be young so that my body could form and allow me to be the butterfly I am today. I feel transgender people are reborn, who's to say that trans people aren't reborn in this world, unlike the world that nobody knows about.
are your family always supportive of your choices?
Well this was 22 years ago, and we had a yellow pages and a phone. There was no internet and no transgender people on TV, I remember one lady on Richard & Judy when I was in denial, but I couldn't get that into my head. I remember when I finally gathered all the information and I thought it was going to be easy. I spoke to my mother who said 'well I always knew'.
It was when I told myself that I wasn't 'gay' and realised I was a woman because I wanted to be treated like a woman. I realise that it has nothing to do with sex, it's gender. So, I told my mother about being a woman and she said 'I always knew you were a woman, but I needed you to know first'.
''MAX CLIFFORD YOU'RE A BASTARD''
What about your father, how was his reaction?
I gathered all the paperwork about the operation and gave it to my father. He encouraged me to go public, because we didn't have any money. I went to Max Clifford - who was a bastard! I changed in his changing room and he kept asking to come in and I remember saying, 'don't come in, I'm naked' but he insisted because it was his office. So he told me I needed new clothes, so I went out and bought a £2000 suit on his behalf. He tried it on with me on three separate occasions, he tried to kiss me and I had to scream for help. It was a different time back then so I didn't speak out. His death was so recent I didn't want to hurt his family. But I can say it now; Max Clifford you're a bastard.
Surely being so high profile at such a young age was difficult?
It was! It took a lot out of me and I didn't rest. I was supposed to rest for 6 months after surgery but I went straight back to work. I remember reporters coming to see me, saying they were friends with flowers and they'd ask me tonnes of questions whilst I was on morphine. When the chats were put out into the world I started reading things I didn't even know I said!
Jumping back to 2015, with your debut single 'I Am A Woman'. How did it feel to put something so personal out into the world?
Amazing! It also went to the BFI as well and I saw it on the big screen! I haven't made a penny out of that single but it doesn't matter because it's the only song that represents gender and it feels fantastic to know of all the people it have helped.
All I want is for people to listen to that song, if they feel trapped in their body - or simply just want to listen to a nice song. Because every one of those words is my life - leaving school, being treated differently by men. It's all true - people must realise that those things might happen to them as well because it's a big step from being a little boy to being a woman. The video for my song, Umpado is coming out soon too and I'll be singing it at gay pride.
I'm excited for everything that's to come from you! Is there anything else we should know?
Aside from my songs that will be out this year. My book, which has everything in it, will be out this year which I'm sure will be a best seller, and if Russell Brand wants to sue me then let him. He knows the truth.
Author: Ash Taylor