Claire, a transgender person and Isabel, a cross-dresser discuss gender identity and the value of socialising with like minded people.
Claire is one of the founders of a social club in Dublin city centre for transgender people and cross-dressers. The club members find it relaxing to dress how they want in a social situation. Approximately 20 members meet at the club every week. Some are married and their wives socialise at the club with them. The club also offers a counselling service.
One's mind is that of a woman, while the body is male.
Claire feels most comfortable and relaxed when she is wearing women's clothing. She believes she has always been a transgender person and it is not the result of any external influence. When she was eight or nine years of age, Claire recalls dressing in her sister's clothes and,
Always feeling that I should have been a girl and that disturbed me, right through my whole life.
Claire has a very good relationship with her wife and they have two children. If Claire had not married she would have liked to have used medical intervention to permanently transition.
I can't do that now on moral grounds and family commitments, I've got my wife and my children to care for, I just simply couldn't do it at this stage.
At the Dublin social club, Áine O'Connor speaks to Isabel, a cross-dresser who dresses and acts in the style or manner traditionally associated with another sex. For most of the time, Isabel is a football and rugby playing man who wears men's clothing. She does not think cross-dressing has any impact on masculinity and for many people, it simply fulfils a need.
I find dressing in female clothes, it just relaxes me and I feel very contented, it just seems natural for me very occasionally to dress like this.
Isabel's wife accepts her husband's cross-dressing, it is not illegal and it does not harm anybody.
It's a hobby isn't it, like different people have different hobbies.
The club supports people who feel the need to cross-dress as well as providing a service for their wives, girlfriends and parents. On average they receive over 500 phone calls a year and 400 people attend the club annually. Isabel feels sorry for the people leading unhappy lives who have not yet discovered the club.
This report uses terminology acceptable at the time of broadcast which now may be considered offensive by some cross-dressers and transgender people.
The episode of 'Summerhouse' was broadcast on 19 August 1980. The reporter is Áine O'Connor.