The Beaumont Trustline
Beaumont Trust Trustline Organiser, Secretary & Treasurer, Seahorse Society, Secretary & Treasurer, Sibyls (Christian Transgender Group).
We operate on Tuesday and Thursday evenings between 7 and 11 o'clock. We use a transfer system, diverting the calls from the London number to the home of the volunteer on duty. That switching costs us, the Beaumont Trust, money. The diversion call costs are borne by us and that is just short of £1,000 per annum. We live on our wits by sales of our literature, by donations, by giving talks, and by the splendid generosity of the Beaumont Society and the Seahorse Society, who give us money.
Nine volunteers help on the line. One of those is Tony who, as we meet, is dying of cancer. He has been a hard-working and conscientious Vice President of the Seahorse, AO of the Beaumont Society and a Trustliner. He has done so much to help transvestites and transsexuals and our community will be much the poorer for his passing.
The volunteers comprise transsexuals, transvestites and wives. Reliability and dependability is important and they are usually recruited by personal introduction.
The Trustliners are all well versed in the ways of the crossdressing scene and can bring a wealth of experience, humour and compassion to the situation, without being dogmatic. This is important. A prescriptive and judgemental attitude is not acceptable. We help callers to explore their feelings and suggest the means to do so. I once raised a problem to which I had no answer in a magazine to see what others thought and was told tartly by one correspondent that no-one should work on the line unless they had all the answers. Au contraire It is my opinion that anyone who believes that they do have all the answers should be nowhere near the line.
Our volunteers have to be versatile as you never know what is going to be thrown at you. "What does the Bible say about transsexualism?" "I like crossdressing as a baby and am looking for a group." "I like dressing but my wife never leaves the house and I have no opportunity." "Which church would accept me?" "How can I get electrolysis?" "Where do I find a psychiatrist?" "Where can I go for a good night out this week?" "How do I tell my wife I'm TV" "Help, my wife has found out I'm TV!" "How can I make false boobs?" "I was dressed at a party and went to bed with a friend. He wants to do it again and I don't know what to do." "Where do I buy clothes?" "How can I help my son who dresses in women's clothes?" "The delays are interminable at Charing Cross and I'm at the end of my tether." "I like my beard but people laugh at me when I wear women's clothes."
The questions and problems are infinitely varied and you have to be on your toes to deal with them.
Most common are of course transvestites. For many it is the very first time that they have ever talked to anyone about their condition. That is a great privilege. Many are in need of contacts and we have a list nationwide which we do our best to keep up to date. Groups - please note that it helps you, it helps us, and it helps the callers if we have your contact number.
Where and how to buy clothes is a very common problem. Many TV's have not the courage to walk into the high street shops to buy but that is the best thing to do. Many have specialised problems, hairy legs, make-up, wigs and often very big feet. We can help. We have lists of suppliers who can and will help.
Often the problem raised is the wish to tell their wife. Here we will not help. We know neither party and can have no idea of the consequences, which could be catastrophic. We advise the caller to think very long and hard and remind him that when a thing has been said, it can never be unsaid. We are in no position to encourage one way or the other. However where they are not married/living together, we would suggest very strongly to a TV that it is only fair to tell his future bride before marriage. His condition won't go away. It's better that his fiancee can make her mind up about acceptance before, rather than after, marriage.
Wives are very frequent callers. Usually they have just found out about their husband's little ways. Invariably they are direct and sensible and wish to find out as much as possible about transvestism. We will tell them as much as we can, fairly, good and bad, and give them as much knowledge as possible on which to form a decision about the future. WOBS numbers will be given and also local groups. Importantly, the wives at each group tend to form their own support group. One cannot help feeling sorry for these wives. Most didn't choose to marry a TV and, if they decide to make a go of it, are stuck with that particular cross from now on.
At this point I would make a particular and personal plea, inspired by the wife who was worried about her husband whom she described as quiet, sensitive and shy. I discern, a personal view, that transvestite groups are getting to be less `vicarage tea party' and more `boys in frocks' drinking clubs. If they ran a recruiting campaign one thinks it might be along the lines of, "Only real men join transvestite clubs." What is good is that transvestites are growing in confidence so that they can face the world. It is not good that they are getting so tough and hard that one doubts the wisdom of putting a newly emerged and sensitive transvestite anywhere near them. It has reached the point where it becomes a matter of some deliberation as to whether one should recommend a group for some individuals. There have been times when I judged it quite the wrong thing to do. This is a very real and new dilemma that help-lines now have to face. The age old response to putting a tenderfoot in with a bunch of veterans was that it would make a man of him but is this really what we want?
It was partly with this problem in mind that I am trying to start transsexuals' meetings in the Surrey area. NOT a new group, these will be open to all the groups and run in conjunction with them. Transsexuals need a meeting place where they can talk together and the boys' clubs are getting less suitable.
Transsexuals are quite frequent callers. Female to male are rare but male to female are quite common. Digressing somewhat we are getting quite a lot of speculative ones. There are many who want to talk about the possibilities, often endlessly. Frequently they have never dressed, indeed don't want to, but do want the operation quickly. So often they are out of work. If they persist in calling, and there is a limit to how often we can keep going over the same ground, we would suggest counselling.
However most transsexuals are very down to earth and ring with specific problems. One senses that they are making the best of it and we do our best to think it through together with a view to solving the problem. In all cases we mention the Gender Trust and their helpline which may be able to provide more ideas.
It is usually the conventional wisdom, particularly at gatherings like this, that transsexualism and transvestism is "a good thing." Political correctness demands acceptance of this opinion. Experience makes me query the universal truth of this. Without doubt both transsexualism and transvestism are a state of being, a fact, and therefore morally inert. To reach for personal fulfilment must be right and deserves all support. The groups and clubs tend to put the emphasis on helping the transvestite or the transsexual. But the reality is that, more often than not, others also will be hurt on the way. If it is only a case of shocking people out of stereotyped ideas and making them think, then it is perhaps no bad thing. But some transsexuals and some transvestites pursue their aims with scarce regard for others and leave a trail of carnage in their wake. Abandoning wives and children, failing to make financial provision, causing emotional hurt and distress, are sadly not unusual. And help-lines have to help pick up some of those pieces.
And so, in addition to wives and partners, who can be the most hurt, all sorts of other people ring us. We get parents, usually desperately concerned to help without hurting. We tend not to get children but please remember they do get hurt by crossdressing. We get doctors and professional advisers, seeking particular advice. We get social workers. Well remembered is the social worker who wanted to help a paralysed cross-dresser. We get agony aunts, we get the press, and we get radio and TV.
Particular pleasure was given by a union official who wanted advice as to how to best help a transsexual who was coming out in the company.
We get called by anyone who needs help with transsexualism and transvestism. On average we get about fifteen/sixteen calls a night and sometimes it is so busy that it can be difficult to find time to get something to eat. It is often very hectic but the vast majority of our callers really need someone to talk to and are only too grateful that we ire there and can offer a little help. There is a huge need which we do our best to meet and I remain convinced that the Trustline is one of the best services available to the TS/TV community.
Occasionally we don't have an answer, but, using our wits, enthusiasm and experience, we try to give the caller all possible reassurance, compassion, help and information. In God's name, why else do we exist?The Beaumont Trust is a small charity dedicated to helping transsexuals, transvestites and all affected by the conditions. It does not have a membership section and deals with all the membership groups and societies. It answers correspondence, provides speakers and publishes literature. It provides a helpline on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 7 and 11 pm. The number is (in 2006), 07000 287878.
Citation: Walmsley, J., (1996), The Beaumont Trustline, GENDYS '96, The Fourth International Gender Dysphoria Conference, Manchester England.
Web page copyright GENDYS Network. Text copyright of the author. 02.07.06 Last amended 09.07.06