First published in The Tranny Guide Eleventh Edition, by Wayout Publishing, London
What is your name and what is your background?
Jed Bland, Derbyshire. Aged 65 in February 2003, for some forty years I was employed in the electronics and instrumentation field. I began in the Air Force, working on air radar, then through television and industrial control instruments, then twelve years with British Rail associated with research, including the High Speed Train and the Advanced Passenger Train. After a year in Saudi Arabia working among the wellheads, I worked in small computer maintenance until made redundant some ten years ago. I took this opportunity to launch myself into the study of the psychology, sociology and neurobiology of sex and gender differences, particularly as they addressed gender diversity. I have written several books and articles, joined with a helpline, which I advertised on Central Television as The Gender Line, and am now developing a cluster of websites.
Are you happy to be called a tranny and what does this name mean to you?
I find that it's only when you are finally at peace with yourself and 'who' you are that you can say "What's in a word?" I am sure there are many who find it guilt-making to be called a transvestite. Many others I'm sure find the range of gender role diversity, and some of the pictures in the Guide off-putting. I don't accept the label 'cross-dresser' for myself, because of its connotations of 'just dressing up' though I respect others. If you really pushed me I'd find it difficult to describe myself. I don't feel truly comfortable in any sort of company. The best description, perhaps, would be Gilbert Herdt s word 'gender liminal' though that would take another book to explain.
How old are you and how young can you remember thinking about or actually cross-dressing?
I first cross-dressed in my teenage when I first started to think about girls and realised they were different. I spent the next thirty five years in total denial, which caused no end of problems in my marriage and for my wife, and might have shortened her life by ten years.
Where do you buy clothes?
Mail order from mainstream companies such as Grattans, Freemans and Avon. (Yes they address me as Mr.) I have learnt the right sizes through experience.
What leads you to choose the styles you wear?
These days women are much more liberated in the styles they wear. In my youth you didn't wear high heels with trousers for instance. So (at age 65) I can dress in styles for thirty or forty something people.
Do you have one look or many images?
I dress according to my mood. Most trannies will tell you (if they are honest) they have two wardrobes - one for going out and one for dressing at home.
Is make-up and hair important to you and if so how do you achieve your look?
Make-up, yes. A wig because most of my own hair has gone. I still mostly wear the wig I got from Victoria Regine many years ago. I find female wig sellers very unsatisfactory because they don't seem to take in the idea I'm not dressing up as a woman but as myself. Also I don't have much money.
To what degree do you practice hair removal, and other body feminisation?
I used to have a full beard (an Arab kid in Saudi asked me if I was a m'tollah) That's now nearly all permanently gone. Elsewhere I shave. Having got a degree of middle-age fat, I can wear a Wonderbra with a couple of twenty-quid breast enhancers.
Who knows that you dress?
My family - they found out in the worst possible way. Also many folk in my home town and Derbyshire through the local newspaper. The Derby Evening Telegraph has always been very good to me. Every couple of years they do a few column inches, then last February they asked for another interview. I nearly had a fit when I saw what they'd done - a double full page spread and an enormous picture - and at the time I was working on a building site. I should add that I've never appeared in the media in a dress - I want people to listen to me not look at me. However, I'd always got on well with the others on the building site, but there were one or two I seemed to rub up the wrong way for no fathomable reason. After the newspaper article, rather than giving me hassle, everyone was more friendly (after all I'd 'been in the paper') but one said "We wondered what was odd about you" in a totally friendly way. Looking back on interactions over the years, I think many people had experienced something at a subliminal level. They knew something that I didn't, or was hiding from myself.
How often do you dress and if you go out where to?
I've not been out in public in a dress for many years. Someone accused me of being 'back in the closet' but how can that be so when its no longer a secret?
How much of a sexual turn on is trannying for you?
In the closet, with rare snatched moments for dressing, it was usually highly erotic even though I might not have wanted it to be. Psychological arousal translated into sexual arousal. Once I 'came out' I took estrogens for about eight years. I needed to separate out my erotic from my social motivations, and in any issue with two variables, you control one while you study the other. Now, also, although I have stopped the estrogens, I am in control of my life.
What is your definition of feminine?
I consciously don't have one.
To what degree do you feel gender dysphoric?
I think that you can feel gender dysphoric without thinking you're a woman. What about young men getting drunk out of their skulls and joy-riding? What about the vast number of teenage male suicides? Having said that, though I'd like to think I have a female-like brain, I've always had a tremendous bump for locality (spatial awareness), though I'm not so good with three dimensions.
To what degree would you consider permanent hair removal, hormones, surgery?
I've mentioned hair removal and hormones. What I was hearing about the NHS route led me to go to the private sector in search of intelligent life. As for surgery, this old body has been ticking away like a Swiss watch for six and a half decades and it seems a pity to mess with it, unless I was desperate, and I can't see myself dilating for the rest of my life. But also, my four children and six grandchildren (at the last count) are the most important thing in my life. I suppose when an etiology is found, people like me will be sterilised in childhood (or aborted) and not have that opportunity.
What one piece of advice would you give to someone that has just found they are not the only tranny in the world?
Talk to as many people as possible and read as much as possible, but keep your own counsel. Try on various labels by all means, to see how they fit, but investigate all the options, and don't let anyone, but anyone, try to tell you 'who' you are.
Bland, J.,(2003) Personal Profile
in The Tranny Guide Eleventh Edition, London: Wayout Publishing
Web page copyright Derby TV/TS Group. Text copyright of the author. Last amended 29.07.06