Cambridge's sex-change mayor goes public
The residents of an historic university city awoke on Thursday to discover that not only had their new lady mayor been born a man, but that their lady mayoress had been, too.
The world's first sex change couple to hold such offices will take over their roles in Cambridge as the city prepares to celebrate 800 years since the appointment of having a mayor, an online paper said.
Mayor-elect Jenny Bailey, a Lib Dem councillor and father of two, and her business and civil partner, Jennifer Liddle, a former city councillor, met while having hormone therapy about 15 years ago as they underwent sex change operations.
Telegraph online reported that Miss Bailey, 45, was forced to go public about her personal life after being approached about it by a reporter on a local newspaper.
"So many more things define me than being transgender - a medical condition I had 15 years ago and which I have now recovered from," she said.
"I'm proud that I managed to get through something which was quite difficult and managed to come out of it a better person. I certainly do not want it to eclipse being mayor."
"If it damages the Cambridge mayoralty I will be so upset. I'm so proud of Cambridge. It's an honour to be mayor."
Miss Liddle, 49, said that a number of people working at the council knew Miss Bailey when she was married man.
"It has been described as the worst kept secret in Cambridge," Telegraph quoted Liddle as saying.
The couple live together and run a software company. Miss Bailey, who has two sons aged 18 and 20 - one of whom lives with her - remains on good terms with her ex-wife, who said yesterday that she was "incredibly proud" of her former husband.
"I am incredibly proud of Jenny and the achievements she has made over the last few years," she added.
"She is a totally selfless person who wants to help others and make a positive impact on our community.
"I think she will make an excellent mayor and has major contributions to make. I hope this will be the focus which people concentrate on.
"I feel sad that the emphasis seems to be about the pathetic 'scandal' involved in her past. She is going to be an excellent mayor and this should be the focus."
Miss Bailey said that, as far as she and Miss Liddle were concerned, their sexuality had never been a secret. "The nature of the Cambridge software industry is that I can't go into a company and not meet one of those 2,500 people who worked at Philips (where she was employed when she was a man).
"When I first joined the Liberal Democrats, there was a vetting process and they asked: 'Is there anything in your past that is going to be difficult?' I said I was transgender and they said: 'No, is there anything that is going to be difficult?'."
The Local Government Association confirmed that Miss Bailey was the first transgender mayor known to take office in the country and the news received a mixed reaction on the streets of Cambridge.
"I think it's disgusting," said one woman shopper, who declined to be named.
"For a mayor and mayoress...no way."
Pensioner Ernest Lane added: "What a mess. It doesn't shock me these days but I don't like it at all. It shouldn't be made public, though, like it has been."
However, carpenter Todd Growns said: "It's a bit weird but does it make any difference? As long as they are doing a good job, it's fine."