Duston resident Julia Maddison, aged 45, was born Rob but realised she wanted to be a woman from an early age.
She has been chosen by the Liberal Democrats as their candidate for the St James ward in next May’s local elections, a decision she admitted would raise eyebrows among some voters.
She said: “Clearly there will be people who will not want to vote for me because of who I am, not because of what party I’m standing for or any other political reasons.
“But I think the best way to combat that is just to talk to people and show through my actions that I’m just as good as any other person who will be standing for the council.”
Julia will go through the legal process of becoming a woman at the start of January, but she has not yet decided if she wants to undergo the operation needed to fully change sex.
That decision will only be made after going through the ‘real life experience’ of living as a woman for more than a year, a time which will include her election campaign.
She said: “I haven’t made my mind up yet whether I’ll have the operation, but I have decided to do everything in the run up to the election in the female gender.
“I’m not going to hide, but I also can’t hide 45 years of my history, and I’m not going to try.”
The decision means the name St James residents will see on the ballot paper when they vote in May next year will be Julia Maddison and all of the Liberal Democrats’ election literature will feature pictures of Julia as a woman.
She said: “I think a few years ago this would have been a bigger issue for people than it is now.
“These days, I think people will react well to somebody who can get the job done and works hard, and that’s what I want to do.
“And whenever I go into Northampton town centre, people generally don’t bat an eyelid. I suppose that’s because, although I’m 5ft 11in, I do pass as a woman. I look good enough to blend in.”
The first time Julia tried on women’s clothes was when she was 12 years old, although she did not ‘come out’ as transgender for another 21 years.
She said: “When I was little, we used to watch the big Hollywood musicals and I always wanted to be the leading lady rather than the leading man.
“I always looked at the dresses rather than the tough guys. It went from there to when I was 12 and I put some women’s clothes on, and it just felt right.
“But it’s only in the last few years that I’ve been Julia 70 per cent of the time, and I feel a lot more comfortable in that role.
“When I have to go to the office in a shirt and tie it’s something I don’t really want to do.”
Discussing her choice of name, Julia says she picked it rather than the more predictable Roberta as she had always liked it and ‘hated Roberta’.
She said: “It’s a name I’ve liked for a while, and by complete coincidence, it was also the name of my first wig.
“But it’s nice to be able to choose your own name. I’ve also picked the middle name Lynne, because that’s what my mum has said she would have called me if I’d been born a girl.”
After working in insurance for 20 years, Julia made a career change to take over a fabric shop, but she has now returned to work in the insurance industry with a firm based in Rugby.
She currently goes to work four days a week as Rob, but on the firm’s dress-down Fridays, she takes the opportunity to work as Julia.
She said: “I went for the interview as Rob and I go back now as Rob, but I go as Julia at least one day a week, and it was on a dress-down day I first came out to the people in my office.
“They’ve been very good about it and everybody in the office with me is very supportive.”
Outside work, Julia has a mixture of hobbies, including dressmaking and shopping, but also what some may consider to be the more masculine pursuits of boat restoration and driving sports cars.
She also got married 10 years ago in a wedding which saw her wear a suit at the ceremony and a wedding dress at the reception, and says despite what many people expect, she is not gay.
She said: “It’s a very easy assumption for people to make that any man who puts on a skirt is gay, but about 97 per cent of transgender people are not.
“My wife is supporting me through the change. But she has said she doesn’t want to remain married, so at some point we’ll divorce, but we’re going to carry on living together as best friends.”
While her close friends and family have been supportive of her change, Julia admitted some people could be abusive when she is in public.
She said: “A lot of people like me will definitely lose a lot of family members and friends when they come out, but I’m very fortunate and I’ve not lost anybody.
“My mum has always been very supportive, my dad did take a bit longer, but he’s fine with it now.
“But it is nerve-wracking going out in public for the first time. The worst thing is probably going on public transport, because there’s nowhere to go if somebody’s staring at you on a bus.
“I’ve also had a few nasty incidents, like teenagers shouting ‘tranny’ at me and we once had tranny written on the wheelie bin.”
Despite such experiences, Julia has said her decision to stand in the election is not an attempt to ‘blaze a trail’ for transgender people.
The former Nene College student, who has been a supporter of the Liberal Democrats practically all her life, said: “By standing for election, I don’t want to be seen as a trailblazer, but if people want to look at me and say ‘she’s a role model’, I’m happy with that.”
I'm still going to decide how to cast my vote based on policies, but if the choice comes down to her or another candidate, her demonstration of courage and integrity will go a long way towards securing my vote.
Changed title to specify what this was about -fjafjan