From growing up stifled in the 1960s to finally embracing her true authentic self in the 2010’s, Marianne Oakes has had an extraordinary journey to get to be the counsellor that she is today.
On growing up transgender, Marianne said: “I was born in an environment that was very hostile towards feminine men.
“No one told me it was wrong to be trans, but you just learnt to kind of keep it quiet.
“There was lots of shame, lots of fears, the only representation I had in the media was negative, so I kept it all locked in.”
Throughout her adolescence, Marianne would express herself as feminine in private whenever she could. When she was set to get married at 20, she came out for the first time to her now wife, Vicki. From then on, she could express herself as female within the family home.
As she progressed through life, Marianne found that she spent more time as a woman. But it wasn’t until the tragic passing of her father in 2007 and her best friend, Graham, in 2009 that she really started considering her future.
Marianne said: “Those two relationships were really important to me. I’d known Graham since I was four, it was like losing a brother.
“My life changed completely and by the time I was in my late 40’s I was thinking, do I want to continue my life as it is?”
This is when Marianne told her GP about her experience, and they referred her to the Porterbrook Gender Identity Clinic in Sheffield. After an initial appointment, she had to wait 14 months for a follow up and then a further 18 months to get put on hormones.
By this point, Marianne had already trained as a counsellor and was working for GenderGP, a private gender clinic, as well as running her own online sessions.
Marianne spoke of the difference between NHS identity clinics and private clinics like Gender GP, stating: “It’s the NHS system that’s broken, the model of care for trans people has got its roots back in the 1950s.”
In the 1950’s the first ‘gender identity clinics’ (GIC) were based off of the research of Henry Benjamin, a German American, who decided that to get treatment you had to have been living as a woman for two years and want to sleep with men.
Marianne argues that this box ticking system is still in use to this day, just with different questions.
She said: “If you’re on a waiting list for a GIC and you talk to other trans people, they’ll tell you what to say. What this means is that you’re not getting a care plan that suits your needs.”
Marianne instead advocates for gender identity counselling that helps people explore what they want and make the right choices for them.
Her decision not to do voice feminisation therapy articulated that there is no such thing as not being ‘trans enough’.
She continued saying: “I’ve played in a band since I was 17 and that was a challenge for me.
“How do I maintain that part of my identity, being a singer? That’s why I’ve never done voice feminisation therapy, because I didn’t want to lose any part of myself.
“If we’re going to set standards of womanhood, everyone is going to fail somewhere, and that is what the gender critics are trying to do.”
These gender critics, who believe that someone’s sex is “biological and immutable”, have recently been very vocal about Eddie Izzard announcing that she is running for Sheffield Central MP.
On this controversy, Marianne said: “Some people are like Eddie Izzard, and they are trans and they should be valued in society.
“They work hard and pay their taxes and they are great parents to their children. They’ve just got this other side that they shouldn’t be shamed for so to see Eddie Izzard doing this makes for a fantastic role model.”
Marianne’s advice to anyone questioning their gender identity is: “Get yourself to an LGBTQ+ charity to get some counselling, do your research and then when you feel better equipped, you can figure out a plan of action.”
“Vicki and I have been married 40 years in December, we have two sons and three grandchildren. These relationships are my biggest achievements considering I’m trans and I would like to think offer hope to many who are considering transition.”
For any parents whose children are questioning their identity, she said: “I would highly recommend they, the parents, seek a counsellor in this area because actually any decisions have got to be about the child.
“If the parents are just reading and talking to 100 different people with 100 different opinions, you’re going to have a very confused child.”
The links to Marianne’s private therapy can be found here: