Julie Stewart: Full Interview
Interview by Paula Smith
13 June 2019
PS: Okay, this is an interview with Julie Stewart at 2BU Wakefield, the 13th June.
JS: Okay, well, when I was a little boy, I wanted to feel like I want to dress in lady’s clothes, but I couldn’t do it because my mum was so strict, very, I couldn’t – I liked when I saw the advert, television, or magazines, ‘oh I like those sort of clothes, I’d like to try ‘em on’, but I couldn’t do, and that were about five years old. And about that time I forgot about it, so I continued dressing like a man all through my teens and stuff. When I got to – I think it started off when we were on YTS at college with the… we didn’t have much girls at my school. Then when I started on YTS there was nice clothes they’d wear and it’s dragging me again in my head. So I wanted to start to dress as a lady.
PS: What age?
JS: About 21. And I left – I used to live with my mum and dad – I left my mum and dad in 1992, and moved into supported care homes, residential care homes back then. I thought, well I can start dressing in women, in ladies’ clothes cos I’m not with, not living with my parents. So I thought I would try and I enjoyed wearing them. I’ve still got [?] and I like to – and I’ve got a bit of put ‘em over the, when narrow-waisted and through the nineties without clothes and dressing in ladies’ clothes. The residents were not keen on liking it. We got in late nineties we had strict staff, officers, they didn’t like me to go out with ladies’ clothes with residents. So I had to dress as a man again. I thought, ‘no, this is ridiculous, no no, I’m not having this’.
JS: So I got… we had burst-outs and tensions and try to tell them I wouldn’t go out unless I’m in ladies’ clothes, tried getting on the bus, but they wouldn’t let us getting on the bus. Fight my way and my rights, and they won’t have it. Cos the manager for the office they had strict, all managers didn’t like you to do. So my-
PS: Why do you think they didn’t like it?
JS: Because it was a lot of drawing attention, with the other public, with members of the public. Now, I know that but that’s nowt to do with why they think, it’s up to me what I feel what to wear and, and the [?] won’t have it so gave up, so like – when they got about 2005 we got a new manager in my house. She agreed to go out with residents and with ladies’ clothes so got a bit feel better then. At the time. So I’m enjoying myself now, and going out and doing other things like now today.
PS: So have you permanently worn the clothes you want to wear since 2005?
JS: Yes. That’s good, yes.
PS: That’s good. How did you decide on what you wanted to wear, and the name that you wanted, and how you wanted to appear? How did you decide?
JS: Err… It’s… it’s the feeling that I have from a long, long time ago. When I was a five-year-old and didn’t want to talk to my mum cos my mum’s so strict so that, and then I forgot. Then when it came to I’ve left the house, my mum like going, I didn’t let my mum know about it till somebody else told me that, some big gob, told my mum know about it. So she knows-
PS: How did you decide on the name Julie?
JS: It’s just a name I’ve liked since a long time, so that’s what I picked, back in 1993. So I started being called Julie instead. So I wanted to just, wanted to dress as a woman.
PS: So what’s the most important thing about your identity to you? How does it make you feel?
JS: Err… Feel better, but I still want to be, do a gender, y’know, a trans, do a – I’ve been to the surgery and – went to the first to be… went to the doctor’s early stage in 1994. Want to do a transvestite – do a trans-
JS: Transition. Which is actually change sex and body and to do that instead. Doctors in those days – went to see the first doctor in Leeds and for I feel about sex change [?] want to do. They didn’t want to know. They had a talk about it when I went to see ‘em and – ‘no you’re not doing it, cos you’re disabled, that’s it’. They didn’t want to know. Why wouldn’t they…? I wanted to know why can’t I have a transves- can’t I have a sex change? They didn’t want to know about it, in those days. Thought that was ridiculous, stupid really. So when it got to 2003, ten year, 2004, ten years later, I decided to – they had these meetings clinics in Leeds… and so decided to, they [?] actually and they’ve talking about what’s going to be either a sex change, they talk about things and how’s it gonna change your life and how will you after operation, risks it’s gonna take. So really it did help me that way in those, to understand why they told me about what’s gonna talk about, with… in 1994 they said ‘oo, you’re not doing it because you’re disabled and that’s it,’ this one came back, we decided to do it again. And they told me, ‘oh it’s gonna be risks, if you don’t… if treatment goes wrong, you might die’.
PS: So they came back with a bit more information for you on why?
PS: So when you found out that you couldn’t transition medically, how did that make you – what did that do?
JS: Well I still wanted to have the penis away and stuff cos it’s like top like putting leggings on like a top without seeing like more girls do, without your penis is going to show. So feel like to do it took away. Still wear women’s clothes but in certain ways you can’t, cos it’s gonna be embarrassing.
PS: So you have to wear clothes that accommodate the body that you have. And when did you find out about 2BU Wakefield? And how does this group help you?
JS: I enjoy it. Going from Karen, from the [?] office, she found out somebody else that she knows about and we’ve got people who are disabled who dresses in different clothes, which was myself. I didn’t know about it till Karen told me, join this sort of club.
PS: And have you been happy coming?
JS: I’ve been happy coming, yeah.
PS: What do you like most about the group?
JS: Um… meeting friends and showing about the things that people want to do and what they’re feelings are.
PS: That’s good. And when did you find out… your identity? Y’know, cos you described yourself as a transvestite – when did you find out about that word?
JS: Transvestite? Just off other people know and learned about it, so from the doctors, from the clinics in Leeds, so I said I wear women’s clothes so they said what it is is transvestites.
PS: And when you describe yourself as a transvestite, how does that make you feel?
JS: When I dresses up as one?
PS: When you tell people that’s who you are.
JS: The way I feel?
PS: Yeah, they way you feel when you tell people.
JS: Erm… Well I feel proud, and different.
PS: Is there any nerves with that?
JS: Just a bit nerves. Not as much.
PS: You’re a very confident person, so. And so when your mum found out, what was the reaction?
JS: It was atrocious. Right cos then she found and know, and she never liked me wearing ladies’ clothes and I like dressing in and she doesn’t like it. She said ‘I don’t like you coming to my house dressed in ladies’ clothes’ so every time I go to mum and dad’s then I can’t.
PS: Do you have anybody who supported you during that time?
JS: Staff have a weekly, my house, supported me as well. They were trying to get my mum to support me, but they wouldn’t have it, because she wouldn’t allow me in ladies’ clothes at all.
PS: And do you have any siblings?
JS: What’s that?
PS: Brothers or sisters.
JS: I’ve got a brother.
PS: Yeah? And does your brother know?
JS: My brother knows about it, yes.
PS: And how does he feel, do you know?
JS: I don’t know that much about details about it though but I don’t think it like that it’s not as worse than my mum and dad are.
PS: I suppose coming to places like 2BU Wakefield is very positive cos you know that there are people who are like you and like me who will support you, and exactly who you are. Is there anything else you’d like to talk about?
JS: Um, I can’t think in here. Just enjoy my life I do and things.
PS: You enjoy your life?
JS: Yeah. I want to do some… sex change.
PS: It’s a goal, it’s definitely a goal. And are you happier now than you were before?
JS: Oh yes, I am, yes.
PS: Yeah? That’s good.
JS: Yeah, cos at one time you couldn’t go out wearing some ladies’ clothes and – I still can’t go and, I still hate going to mum and dad’s still wearing men’s clothes.
PS: That’s a shame. Well, yeah. I think that’s it, but yeah, it was very interesting. Will you be going to Pride?
JS: Pride yes.
PS: And are you gonna go as yourself?
JS: Yeah, I am yeah.
PS: That’s good. Excellent. Right, I’m gonna stop it.