Briony Jay, of Towcester, UK, widely considered to be the ?mother? of British trannies, passed away of undetermined cause on February 2, 2006. Born in 1941, and raised in Liverpool, Briony is survived by two stepchildren, and three grandchildren, whom she dearly loved, and by easily 1,000 transgender people in the UK and America, whose lives she touched.
In so many ways, the life of Briony Jay was typical of so many transgender people the world over. During her lifetime of distinguished service to Her Royal Majesty, as a tank commander in the British Army, she remained a devoted husband and father, placing her own needs on hold until her children were grown, and she had laid her spouse to rest. She knew all the time what lay inside her, but chose to suppress her nature in an effort to spare her family the embarrassment she felt they would suffer due to the social stigma associated with the open expression of her gender identity.
With the children raised to well adjusted adulthood, and upon the passing of her beloved wife, Briony finally felt free to express her gender identity. In an effort to make up for lost time, she burst upon the UK transgender scene just a few short years ago, and within a very short time, her wit and good humor made her a popular and well loved figure among the attendees of Transmissions London, Renaissance Blackpool, and a welcome and valued patron at the numerous trans friendly establishments of the Village District of Manchester, UK, most notably Napoleon?s in Bloom St. The basement bar at Nap?s will ring hollow without the music of Briony?s laughter, to be sure.
In the UK transgender community, as in her previous life, B, as Briony was affectionately known by her countless friends, was ever selfless, placing the needs of others before her own. She was compelled to share the exhilaration that comes with the ability to express one?s gender identity. She worked tirelessly as a facilitator and enabler, lovingly holding the hands of countless transgender individuals as they crossed the threshold for the first time. Though she did so in a strictly social context, unfettered by political or therapeutic rhetoric, in a manner consistent with her military background she meticulously established a procedure for helping people to come out. Meeting one on one in a public setting, in ?male mode,? she would address the concerns of each individual, verifying that they were in earnest and fully prepared to take this giant step. On the appointed date, B?s charges would meet with her and others in a pub, again in ?male mode,? to put them at ease before retiring to their respective hotel rooms to assume their true identities for the night?s festivities. This procedure has been adopted as the standard among the local chapters of ?Trannyweb? and other groups who continue the effort.
Briony knew that the value of simple social interaction cannot be underestimated. Through these dinners and nightclub excursions, relationships have been established that have served to greatly enhance the sense of community among the transgender people of the UK and beyond. We mourn the loss of our friend and valued member, but her passing strengthens our resolve to continue her important work, and to honor her memory in doing so. We would ask that as you assume your customary stool at your local pub, you raise a pint to our friend and sister, Briony Jay.