Bakewell … International Transgender Day of Visibility … Isobel Jeffrey … Billy Tipton



Bakewell is a market town in the Derbyshire Dales district of Derbyshire. It’s the biggest town in the Peak District and is idyllically situated on the banks of the river Wye.

We set off at 10.30am on a coach from Manchester and arrived at 12.00 noon. The mellow stone buildings, medieval five-arched stone bridge and quaint courtyards are a magnet for sightseers and photographers alike.

Bakewell is the ideal place for an interesting town walk. We strolled through the town and discovered scenic buildings and pretty streets. In one of the charming courtyards we discovered the Lavender Tea Rooms and sampled the town’s famous Bakewell Pudding.

Legend has it that the pudding was created by mistake by a local cook in the mid-19th century. Today the delectable ‘jam tart that went wrong’ can be sampled at various bakeries and cafés.

We didn’t find time to visit the Rutland Arms for afternoon tea, to have a look round the Old House Museum or All Saints Church which was founded in 920 during Anglo-Saxon times.

All too soon the time went and we had to return on the coach back to Manchester. Check out the photos here.

International Transgender Day of Visibility

International Transgender Day of Visibility is an annual event occurring on 31 March dedicated to celebrating transgender people and raising awareness of discrimination faced by transgender people worldwide, as well as a celebration of their contributions to society.

Meet Isobel Jeffery, who has undergone gender confirmation surgery at the age of 80

The former fire fighter and truck driver, who knew from an early age she was trapped in the wrong body, began transitioning to female in October 2021 at the age of 79 after living her life as a woman for six years.

She says it has enabled her to finally find peace.

After beginning hormone therapy a year ago, she had the operation at the private Spire Yale Hospital in Wrexham in January this year.

Isobel said: “I cannot tell you how much it has meant to me; the peace, the calm and the contentment that has been brought over me.

People ask me what I am smiling about, and someone asked recently why I was walking taller! Everything has just fallen into place – it was meant to be.

Now I just want to spread the good news and help others. I feel like 25 – not nearly 81!”

Isobel Jeffery who has recently undergone male-to-female gender confirmation surgery. Picture Mandy Jones / Spire Yale

Isobel, of Winsford, Cheshire, has been married to wife Margaret for almost 60 years and had her full support in her transition journey.

She said: “So many people ask why I left it so long but around 10 to 15 years ago, it was becoming more accepted. The changing attitudes in society gave me more confidence to be who I am.

“It’s not to be undertaken lightly, of course, but I am proof that you’re never too old. As long as you’re physically able to undertake the surgery, then it can happen.”

Isobel Jeffery with her wife Margaret before they were married (Image: Spire Yale Hospital / Mandy Jones)

Isobel said she knew from a young age that she was different to other children as she grew up in Marshfield, South Gloucestershire.

She said: “I always played with my sister and her dolls and pushed her pram. Seventy years ago, boys didn’t push dolls’ prams around. It was already starting to show then in hindsight.

I didn’t understand it, I just seemed to feel different. I was dressing up in women’s clothing probably from around 10 or 12. I learned to hide it and was the quiet child at the back normally.”

Isobel when she was presenting as a male and worked as a truck driver (Image: Spire Yale Hospital / MandyJones)

Isobel took on physical roles for 40 years as she tried to convince herself that she was male.

“I sailed around the world out of Liverpool or London with the merchant navy and did two 18-month voyages. When I came back, I became a fire fighter for Bristol City Fire Service as it was known then,” she said.

“Then I went into heavy goods driving and oversized loads. I did everything I could to ‘prove’ I was a man with ‘manly’ jobs but all the time I had a niggling feeling in the back of my mind. I would come home at the end of the day and get into a nightdress. I can laugh about it now, but I was living two lives.”

Isobel grew up as a boy, alongside four brothers and a sister. It was around the age of 10 that she first realised she felt different.

(Image: Spire Yale Hospital / MandyJones)

“I would’ve been bullied badly had I not had a twin brother who stuck up for me. My brother was in a different class to me, and we weren’t always together, but I only had to say so and so has been on at me again and he would sort them out!”

Isobel underwent gender confirmation surgery in January at Spire Yale Hospital in Wrexham.

Isobel’s Consultant said: “I was extremely touched by Isobel’s story. It’s amazing how somebody lived their life for such a long time hiding their real identity, it was very emotional.

The majority of patients are in their 20s or 30s but quite a few patients wish to complete their transition with gender affirming surgery in their 50s or 60s.

This is really a story about what it means to be transgender. We are living in a more liberal society now compared to a time when people like Isobel were growing up.

But discrimination and barriers still exist. For many people with gender dysphoria, life is filled with anxiety, depression, pain and a struggle for acceptance, belonging and equality.

Gender incongruence is not a choice – being born with a body that is not aligned with what your mind perceives as your true identity is scary and makes you question your space in society. It has taken Isobel almost eight decades to get to the point where she mustered up the courage to express and reveal her real identity.”

Billy Tipton, jazz artist who lived for decades secretly as a man…

Billy Tipton was a jazz musician who achieved only modest regional success in the 40’s and 50’s. His career included live radio shows with Big Bands and evolved into jazz quartets and trios playing in night clubs. In his 74 years, in addition to being a band leader and a booking agent, he was a husband five times and adopted three children. After he died in 1989 in Spokane, a coroner revealed that he was much more, and the mysterious story ran wild on the wire services: Billy Tipton was a woman.

It seems that Tipton’s decision to adopt a male disguise was likely motivated, at least at first, by practical reasons: It was the depression, people were desperate for work, and it was especially difficult for women to get work playing in jazz bands. So, at 19, Dorothy Tipton began cross-dressing to get a job in a band. She cut her hair, put on men’s clothing, bound her breasts and re-christened herself Billy Tipton, eventually fooling five wives and the world for more than 50 years. Tipton left no letters of explanation, so we can only speculate on what drove him, but we can learn much of what there is to know from a biography by Diane Wood Middlebrook called “Suits Me: The Double Life of Billy Tipton.”

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