Former boxing promoter Frank Maloney plans to visit Irish matchmaker Willie Daly next week, but learning to be Kellie Maloney is her priority, says Margaret Jennings.
WHEN 62-year-old transgender woman, Kellie Maloney, arrives in Lisdoonvarna, Co Clare, next week to talk to matchmaker, Willie Daly, she won’t hold out much hope of finding immediate love.
Although British-based Kellie, who completed her gender reassignment in March, is arriving for The Outing — the LGBT music and matchmaking version of the famous festival — she says she doesn’t expect to find a partner, be they male or female.
Although Kellie was twice married as boxing promoter, Frank — famed for taking Lennox Lewis to the top — and has three daughters and two grandchildren, she says: “I don’t really know what my sexuality is now.
"I like going out on dates and being paid compliments, but I’m not sure I’m ready for a relationship. In my head, I would like to be a heterosexual female.”
The transgender movement and the LGB movement are different, she says.
“LGB is about sexuality and transgender is about gender. My gender is who I go to bed as; my sexuality is who I wake up next to.
"In the last seven years, I have not woken up to anybody in my bed, so... I don’t know my sexuality and I feel a lot of transgender people don’t really know.”
This embracing of diversity is a far cry from the macho Frank, who, 11 years ago, voiced blatant homophobic comments as a candidate of the right-wing UKIP party in the London mayoral election.
She says that, back then, she was “living in a dark place. I was trying to hide a secret from the world and I was trying to be too much of a jack-the-lad.
"I regret what I said, because I hurt a lot of people. I came from a working-class environment, where men were men, and women were women, and it was black and white, with no grey area.
“Until you come to terms with yourself, you can’t expect the rest of the world to come to terms with you and accept you,” she says.
“I was very lucky to get a second chance, though it was a long and painful road.”
Married for 12 years, to Jackie, mother of Emma, 36, and then to Tracey, for 20 years, mother of 20-year-old Sophie, and 14-year-old Libby, Kellie says: “I thought I’d lose my family when I revealed my secret — my three daughters have been absolutely fantastic and also my mum, Maureen, who is 82. The girls now call me ‘dad in a dress’!
“I was very lucky to have a lot of support around me and I have never been in a happier or more contented place.”
Though Kellie’s “biological birthday” was in January, she says that her “female birthday” was on March 24 this year.
“I look in the mirror and I don’t see a 62-year-old person ready to retire and put their slippers on and take up knitting.
"Now, I see this young person who still wants to do a lot with my life — including to re-establish my career in boxing and to help in the transgender movement.”
She works out at the gym for 45 minutes and walks her dogs, two Airedale terriers, Louis and Winnie, for three hours every day.
The dogs travel everywhere with her — including for her gender reassignment operations in Spain and in Belgium.
Does a transgender woman in her 60s have ageing issues?
“It’s a very fine balance — the hormones have to be monitored very closely, every six months, and you have to listen to the gender doctor. Whereas before, Frank never listened to anyone, now I’m much more willing to take advice.”
Though she has been advised to drink decaffeinated tea, Kellie likes “white wine, champagne and cocktails,” when she is partying.
She may well be seen quaffing a glass or two, having the craic at the fun festival in Lisdoonvarna, but famed resident matchmaker, Willie Clancy, will have his work cut out for him.
“I’m not rushing into anything. Before I could even have a relationship, I would have to really learn to trust that person and know that person is really committed to me, because I bring a lot of baggage.
"If I meet someone I meet someone — it could be a man, it could be a woman. Love has no boundaries — that’s another thing I’ve learnt since I’ve become a woman.
“I’ve met some transgender people who’ve met other transgender people and they feel safe and happy with them. There are other transgender people who have stayed with their partners — love is a very strange thing and knows no boundaries.”
* The Outing, now in its third year, runs from October 2- 4. www.theouting.ie
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