Tuesday, 28 August 2018

The Mirror article

Immediately following the moment of the preview of the front page of the paper we had a look online and found the whole article to be there along with the video interview.

They had quoted us exactly, had done the amendments we requested and although they added some descriptive words which made it seem like Lucy was nervous when speaking (artistic licence as she wasn't nervous at all). We didn't like the official pictures taken in the hotel as they are so false and staged, I had not expected to have been photographed either, our personal pictures are so much better but the Mirror insisted on using their own.


At the same time as the article appearing online we both updated our old life Facebook profiles with a message for friends to see.....

Lucy's message:

Ok my last post on here....as some of you may have seen or will see I have a story in today's Sunday mirror (I look so fat!) you can search for it online should you want to read it....... Anyway as the story states I have battled with demons for years. Being transgender has led me to suicide attempts and years of a double life. I am still the same person in many ways. I love my wife, children,family and love my football. My new life as me starts tomorrow, if you want to stay friends then drop me a friend request and I will gladly add you.... I apologise to those whom I have kept this a secret from over the years but hopefully you will understand why.

My message:
Being transgender is NOT a choice. It is who you are. It is not a fad and doesn’t go away no matter how clever you are at suppressing it and it is DEFINITELY NOT a fetish or driven by sexual preference. No one in their right mind would CHOOSE to be transgender. Why would you choose to open yourself up to having to pretend to be someone you are not, the agony of having to live a life that is not yours, to the agony of abuse from other people because you don’t fit the stereotype, look different, put your body through lots of changes using hormones and surgery. Not many, if any, of the people reading this will have a clue about the impact of this and have no idea how much the associated dysphoria and depression can destroy lives. Many transgender people live secret lives and a huge percentage never ever tell anyone due to the social and family impact an admission like this can cause. In one week a national transgender helpline received 5 phone calls from wives where their partner/husband had died and they had found evidence of a secret hidden transgender life. Many transgender people have lost their relationships with their partners, family and friends. When you transition as an adult, relationships have been built however these are where the transgender person has been hiding behind a mask…. the inside is just the same person, it really is, but the outside will change to at least get somewhere near to match the true person inside but as changes are having to be made to something already formed the changes are not as perfect as if they had been if they had been born into the correct body in the first place.
For all her life, the love of my life Lucy has lived a lie. She has hidden herself so well behind her mask that practically everyone reading this will be shocked. I was the first person she told and together we have lived a double life for the past 17 years. There are a handful of friends and family who know and my children have known for a while and have been amazingly supportive. We have made many friends in the trans community and are actually quite well known. We have participated and assisted with trans specific events, Lucy has DJ’ed many times for special events and in LGBT+ clubs, attended Pride and Trans Pride and she even hosts her own Trans radio station which is listened to in 29 countries. I am an admin of a fantastic support group for partners of trans, write a blog, have contributed to a partner support handbook and have written an article for partners in a trans community magazine which Lucy has also featured in for her work with the radio station.
So now is the time to be honest and open to everyone. It is Lucy’s time and from now on we will stand side by side openly on the journey we have ahead of us. We are a team and have been for 17 years and will continue to be. It’s going to be one hell of a rollercoaster ride………
I am not asking for your acceptance or support but should you want to provide this, that would be great, as I am sure you will appreciate this is going to be bit of a crazy time for us. This Facebook profile will remain however I will no longer be active on it. Should you still want to remain friends and be part of our lives and our journey you are welcome to join me on my other Facebook which I have been using in tandem with this one for several years. We have many community friends who have been friends with us for years who are on my other profile so please bear this in mind if you do come and post anything. Please don’t come to be nosy as that is the last thing we need at this stage, and don’t come to post negative comments as that won’t be tolerated, only come if you genuinely still want to stay in touch. I’m happy to privately answer reasonable questions but please remember this is someone’s personal life.
This message is not visible to everyone on my Facebook and if you can see this it is because I consider you to be a friend.
Come and jump on the rollercoaster with us………
And if you are interested there is a small article in the Sunday Mirror.......

The response from everyone for us both has been totally overwhelming. We just did not expect this level of acceptance and support. Lucy was and still is (8 days later) receiving messages from friends and acquaintances old and new from the football circles as well as personal friends and messages from strangers across the world. The same for me with messages and comments of support which are still coming in now and we are both making sure that we are responding to every single message...... the dodgy Facebook friend requests are another thing! To be honest we were both in shock with it and the amount of interest in our story. At the end of the day we are just Lucy and Avril. I have to admit that the relief I have felt with us no longer hiding away has been immense. 

It did not take long for other UK newspapers such as the Daily Mail and The Sun to pick up the story and publish their own articles using the Mirror interview but they found some pictures on Lucy's twitter which she had forgotten about. To be honest we did not mind them stealing these pictures as these were our pictures of us and we think we both look so much better in them! Before we knew it we had gone global.... papers all over the world were publishing our story and every single one was retaining the same positive spin created by the Mirror which we were pleasantly surprised about.

We have kept away from the comments on the articles on social media, twitter etc as to be honest we know what they will be saying. We did have a peek and it did seem like the papers themselves were moderating many of the comments (twitter was a different story) and it seemed to be mainly positive comments however any positive comment would have about 10 times as many dislikes as likes as this was the only was the only way for some of the trolls to get their opinion across. To be honest, a strangers opinion of us and our situation does not bother us. We have seen all the negative comments before many, many times on other transgender specific articles so we knew what to expect. Personally we have received nothing nasty or derogatory.....yet.....

Now for Lucy's first football match later that day..........

Friday, 24 August 2018

Count down to Mirror newspaper article day

Day 5

Today Kellie messaged over details on a form the paper had supplied as they are having a review meeting tomorrow morning. Some of the details are very specific such as our full names, ages, address and children details and Lucy's dead name..... not sure why they want that as we don't want any reference to that in the article.

This request has understandably made us very nervous. We have not signed any contract yet and having our personal details makes us feel very vulnerable. Specifically regarding the children we do not want them being dragged into all of this. It is supposed to be about Lucy coming out as a trans referee and not about the kids. Although my 4 are fine and our daughter is too although when she goes back to school in September it will be her key GCSE year and doesn't need any added distractions, Lucy has already lost one son and we have the eldest son trying his best to be accepting but is in turmoil. The last thing any of them need is the press contacting them. We have said we are not prepared to disclose any children information and for us it is not negotiable and we would pull out if the insisted. We think Kellie understood and she seemed worried we would pull out so I am sure she will convey the correct message.

We had already tightened up privacy on our deadname and current Facebook pages however we went back through checking again and deleting any unnecessary 'friends'. At 2am as I had forgotten it was there, I was changing the cover pic on my old Facebook as it was a picture of my 3 sons and our daughter and tightening security and access to my LinkedIn account and deleting Lucy's deadname connection so there is no link. We also had to delete pictures of ourselves on the radio station Facebook and Instagram pages so that we are partially in control of what the paper and anyone else that gets alerted to us can see.

Day 4

After little sleep I was up working from home. Previously Lucy had tried to have a small weave to cover the small patch on her head but she really didn't get on with it and it 'fell out' after 5 days. Pretty sure this was down to her fiddling with it. It did look great as it covered the patch and thickened her fringe. We agreed with the salon that it would get put in again at a later date and we wanted to wait until all the Prides were over and done with. What with the paper wanting to take photos at her first proper football match as herself on Sunday and the interview we are having tomorrow evening, we thought it would be a good idea to have it refitted. Lucy organised to go down to the salon at 10am today (I thought that was far too early bearing in mind it is an hour drive away). So as we both had had very little sleep last night she was like a bear with a sore head at 9.50am today regretting everything. I think she forgets it is not just her suffering with the lead up to all this and affects me too. I am knackered through lack of sleep, my mind is running in overdrive however all this stress would be happening whether it was going to be in the newspaper or not. Either way she would be the same.

She came back from the salon a bit despondent. The refitting had looked awful and neither Lucy or the salon lady were happy with it. As a result Lucy has sorted out a different type of weave and in a few weeks will go back to have it fitted. It is more expensive but she may find it better. This now means she will have to wear a wig for the interview tomorrow - not the end of the world.

Day 3 (interview day)

During the day it had become a little stressful. Wording on contracts was changing and there was a little back and forth. One of the things that was rescinded was giving us headline rights. This made Lucy uncomfortable however the wording stated that they would not sensationalise the headline. We were still very unsure about this.

We had arranged to meet at a hotel at Gatwick airport as that is easy for us to get to. After a stressful getting ready period, Lucy is always late, we made it to the hotel and were met by the reporter Janine who was really lovely and friendly. She took us up to the hotel suite where we were met by a makeup artist and photographer. Right from the very beginning they made us both feel very comfortable and it was just like spending time with friends having a chat. Everything was very informal and Janine asked a few questions but the conversation just casually flowed and we spoke about the things we were comfortable with. They stuck by the agreement not to mention the kids although the article will mention Lucy has 3 children.

They did Lucy's makeup and hair for the photoshoot which again was really relaxed and friendly. Lucy had lots of pictures on her own, followed by a few of us both and me on my own (which we had not expected). As part of this they they did a video interview with Lucy which will be on their website. 

We had a discussion about how viable they thought the story was and apparently they think this is a big story! Wow. We were surprised as at the end of the day this is our private life that is being put into the spotlight and we were not sure if it would be a storm in a teacup or something bigger. 

By the time we finished chatting it was far later than anyone expected. We both flt really good about the whole evening and had been reassured that Lucy's story would be told sympathetically.

Day 2

Lots of really good feedback has come back from the interview. Apparently they really liked me too and want to include me in any radio and tv interviews along with Lucy. Well of course, work permitting, I would love to be involved!

In advance of them coming down to cover Lucy's football match on Sunday they want to take pictures of her in her referee kit either today or tomorrow. Today is out so it will have to be tomorrow but our house/garden is really not suitable. My parents are away and have a large flat garden and large house so that would be ideal. So I am trying now to get hold of them to check that it would be ok.

In the mean time we have double checked our social media and I have a statement I have prepared to load as my status on Facebook telling people of our situation and inviting them over to my other and real life Facebook.

Day 1 (eve of article publication)

Again neither of us had much sleep. This is all on our minds all the time. My parents confirmed it was ok to go round their house so that was all good. Janine the reporter had contacted Lucy again and we confirmed the copy they sent over for our approval. A couple of things needed to be changed which she did and said that she would have a picture on the front page and would have a double page spread on pages 4 & 5...... at this point we just presumed a small box on the top right hand side directing people to the relevant pages although we were surprised we were going to be so near the front. 

Lucy had organised to see the photographer at my parents house in the afternoon. The chap that turned up was really very friendly and he set about taking lots of pictures of Lucy. All in all he was there with her for about an hour and took lots of pictures in different poses. I was there taking some pics at the same time just so we had some for us.

During the day we rang and sent messages to several key people in our lives that we wanted to tell before the article was published. There were some interesting but positive conversations had with people. What was amazing was the close male friends of Lucy's who we were both worried about. With the exception of one who took several days to respond (he is getting better as Lucy is educating him), they were extremely supportive and positive.... oh and shocked as well. Lucy had hidden herself so well.

We had decided we were going to speak to one set of our neighbours that we are very close to that evening. We invited them round saying we needed to speak to them and we could see they were confused and worried about what we were going to say. Lucy said her piece and they were speechless! Once they got over the shock they were incredibly supportive and non judgemental (we thought they may be but you can never be sure).

They ended up staying for hours sitting and chatting with us. We went through lots of bottles of wine just sitting talking, sharing stories and answering questions. We love this couple and get on with them so well.

Much later that evening Lucy thought she would check the BBC programme that shows the front pages of the papers in the morning. They went through them and the Mirror was not mentioned so we breathed a sigh of relief and carried on chatting and drinking. A little later they repeated the papers and it seemed to be the same spiel so we were not really paying much attention except this time they mentioned the Mirror and we heard the words 'transgender referee' and all our eyes darted to the television. The full screen in front of us showed us what was the front page of the Mirror, Lucy WAS the whole  front page! We all screamed NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!! and hysterical screaming of horror and surprise ensued and the place was in pandemonium so much so our daughter Megan came running downstairs from her room. Almost immediately my phone rang and it was one of my cousins and his wife video calling us so virtually they joined in the chaos and shouts of disbelief. I will never, ever, ever forget that night....... 

Sunday, 19 August 2018

Kellie Maloney and the newspapers

As you know, we have had Kellie Maloney on the radio station a few times and she is a great supporter. Her and Lucy have formed a great friendship and with the sporting connection have so much in common.

A few weeks ago she rung up for one of her chats with Lucy and commented that she didn't know much about her personal life and relationships. She didn't even know we were married or that I even existed. As part of this conversation Lucy mentioned that she was a referee and her plans to 'come out' but still stay as an active referee and how the FA seemed to be dragging their feet as although they have all the great policies they don't know what to do or how to support Lucy as she will be the first openly trans referee in English football across the world. A scary thought!

This sparked Kellie off and she said that this was going to be news and likely to hit the papers whether we liked it or not so her suggestion was to head it off and contact the papers ourselves so we could get our story out first (no doubt there will be lots of positive and negative comments from in and out the community) but also may force the FA to be more supportive.

So we were caught in a little bit of a whirlwind and before we knew it Kellie was approaching newspapers and put us in touch with her solicitor. We discussed it between us and thought that if the story was going to hit the newspapers anyway, it would be good to control the first story that was going to be put out there. At least this way we would have an input although we know that any 'trans' news story will attract positive and negative comments from our community and outside. We already deal with 'TERFS' and the like on the radio station social media so nothing there really changes. It also gives a definitive date that Lucy will have to tell the remaining friends of our situation and when all the noise quietens down will enable us to start properly living our life together and no more worrying of being caught out.

Fast forward a few weeks and we are sat here with key dates looming. A few offers from papers came in and a decision was made to go with the Mirror as they would give us headline and copy rights so we can ensure the right message is given over. They have agreed that we can provide photos rather than reply on them taking any, we are to be interviewed together and on Sunday 19th August they will publish Lucy's story and on the same day will come down to cover the womens football match she will be refereeing which will form the basis of a follow up article the following Sunday. On Monday 20th August they will apparently publish my interview which we were not expecting. They are also going to be mentioning Trans Radio too.

In the meantime Lucy contacted the FA again and once she had explained the situation with the press she was put in touch with the head of referees who was very supportive. Lucy does still want to referee mens matches however she feels that maybe for the first couple of months she would prefer to do the womens and when the dust has settled a bit then resume the mens matches. The moment she steps out on any football pitch as the true her it will start the chatter within the football community. The FA are supportive of this and going to ensure we gets allocated womans matches to the same level as the mens she was doing. They also want to do a press release to coincide with the newspaper article.

So quite a bit going on in our lives at the moment!

Telling Lucy's son

Lucy had to tell her eldest son, she has known for sometime that she needed to tell him however she is so frightened of losing him. She has stressed so much over the years about telling him but now she had no choice. He needed to know before she transitioned further but also before we told other key people in our lives.

We had organised to go round to his flat for dinner one evening which is when we were planning on telling him however it turned out his girlfriend would be there too and we didn't want to have this conversation with her too. Lucy decided to ring her son the night before, over the phone was not ideal was had to be done due to the circumstances.

Bearing in mind this son has been openly vocal about being transphobic he wasn't too bad. He was obviously shocked at the news and is taking time to assimilate it all. He is in turmoil as on one hand he does not believe people are transgendered but on the other hand he loves his dad very much and needs to find a way to reconcile the two. 

When we met up with him the following evening we did have a good discussion about it. He has based himself on being a good 'man' like his dad but questions whether that is what he is as now he knows it was all an act. I reassured him that his dad portrayed the best male attributes and did it very well and told him he should be proud of the man he is. 

He asked some questions that we had not been asked before; like what happens to his memories of being with his dad and we said that they stay the same its just from now on, the memories are formed with his dad as she is now and that no matter what she will always be his dad. He then asked about what Lucy would wear to his wedding.... bit of a weird one. I think he is expecting for Lucy to still dress like a man and not a woman. It doesn't help as he didn't want to any pictures of Lucy when she is dressed up being her so in his mind he is unlikely to be picturing the real Lucy. In fact when I said to him that I bet he was envisaging a version of Lily Savage, some bad drag queen or just a man in women's clothes he admitted that was sort of what he was imagining. I told him that she definitely does not look like any of those at all!!

It has been a few weeks now and he has been asking me privately all sorts of questions and telling me how he feels. He still doesn't want to see any pictures and still feels in turmoil but it is early days. He has also been messaging our 15 year old daughter and my children are all on hand to support him if required. Only time will tell.

When we saw him we did have a discussion about telling Lucy's other son, his younger brother, and it was agreed that he would do it. That went exactly as expected and the other son unfriended Lucy's dead name Facebook from his own and that told us all we needed to know. It is terribly sad however our door will always be open for him should he ever decide he wants to get back in touch. Highly emotional and I really feel for Lucy.