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Guest blog post: Marianne Oakes

I was devastated to hear of the passing of Janett Scott on Saturday (June 20, 2020). Janett was the president of the Beaumont society in the 80s and 90s. During that time, if there was ever a story relating to trans issues, Janett was the expert to whom the media would turn for comment. She was one of the first recognisable faces of what, at the time, was known as the “transvestite and transexual scene”.

Janett spoke in a very open and forthright manner about what being trans meant to her. She never over complicated her gender expression or the language she used to explain her experience. In a world before the internet, Janett encompassed transgender visibility and she was my first connection to what we now call our community.

I remember her sharing the story of how, in her early years, she had been subjected to aversion therapy. Her experience had been so horrendous that she convinced the doctors she was ‘cured’ despite knowing full well that her gender identity was not something that could ever be taken away, no matter what she went through.

I met her several times at the events organised by the Beaumont Society. It was like meeting a celebrity. She was warm and welcoming and took time to talk to everyone who attended. She cared enough to talk to my wife, Vicki. She reassured her with her open and honest approach, which was entirely free from shame. Those interactions made all the difference in terms of helping us as a couple to understand and embrace our situation which, thanks to those events, slowly began to feel far less ‘alien’.

 

Were it not for the groundwork laid by Janett in those early days, I believe our cause would be a far cry from where we are today. She gave people like me – who at the time were very much closeted – courage and hope, and for that I will always be grateful.

 

So while she may not have popped up on your radar before now, her passing is a moment to stop and reflect. Perhaps you’ll join me in raising a toast to a wonderful woman whose dignity and self belief taught us that being trans is more than something to accept, it’s something to be embraced.

 

Thank you Janett, for everything you did for our community.

Marianne x

Image courtesy of The Beaumont Society