Caroline "Tula" Cossey (born 31 August 1954, in Brooke, Norfolk), is an English model, actress and magician's assistant. Born Barry Kenneth Cossey, she is one of the world's most well known transsexual people, having appeared in a James Bond film and being the first to ever pose for Playboy. Since being "outed" by British tabloid News of the World, Cossey has fought for her right to legally marry a man and to be recognized by the law as a woman.
Early life and transition
Barry Cossey was born and raised a boy in Brooke, a village in Norfolk, England. Even through puberty, Cossey was somewhat feminine in appearance due to a condition known as Klinefelter's syndrome; however, instead of having XXY chromosomes like most with this condition, Cossey is XXXY. In Cossey's autobiography My Story, she describes an unhappy childhood, where she suffered confusing feelings and bullying by peers due to her femininity. Growing up, Cossey's closest companion was his sister, Pamela, with whom he would play dress up in their mother's clothes. Cossey left formal schooling when he was 15, and found work in a clothing store and as a butcher's apprentice; at 16, Cossey left Norfolk and moved to London, where he held a variety of low-wage jobs in the city.
Soon after moving to London, Cossey started transitioning, after befriending a post-operative transsexual woman. By the age of 17, Cossey had started hormone therapy, had her ears pierced, was living full-time in a female gender role, and had begun a career as a showgirl at a London nightclub. Despite initial shock, her parents were eventually supportive. After undergoing breast augmentation surgery, she worked as a magician's assistant in London, a showgirl in Paris and as a topless dancer in Rome to save up for gender reassignment surgery (GRS). After years of hormonal and psychological treatment, and legally changing her name, Cossey had GRS at the age of 20, with the surgery taking place on 31 December 1974 at Charing Cross Hospital in London.
Modeling career and "outing" by the tabloid press
After the surgery, Cossey ventured into a career in modelling, and an active social life as a woman. She worked and dated without revealing her past. "I'm afraid I went a little wild," Cossey told Playboy in 1991, when asked about her dating life. She told tabloids about a 1979 romance with Des Lynam, though Lynam claims not recalling it. Under the name "Tula," Cossey appeared in magazines such as Australian Vogue and Harper's Bazaar, and worked extensively as a glamour model and magician's assistant, making a number of TV appearances assisting various different magicians. She was a Page Three Girl for British tabloid The Sun and appeared in Playboy magazine in 1981.Cossey won a part on the British game show 3-2-1 in 1978. Soon afterwards, a tabloid journalist started contacting Cossey, revealing that he had discovered she was a transsexual and planned to write a story on it. Journalists began researching her past, and attempted to interview her family members. Cossey responded by dropping out of the show, convincing the producers to let her out of her contract without revealing exactly why she was leaving. Eventually, the tabloid's journalists stopped contacting Cossey and her family and the newspaper did not run the story. After the incident, Cossey tried to keep a lower profile, and accepted only smaller assignments such as catalogue modelling and working as the principal assistant in a touring illusion show.
In 1981, Cossey was cast as an extra in the James Bond film For Your Eyes Only, appearing briefly in one scene. Shortly after the film’s release in 1982, the British tabloid News of the World finally revealed that Cossey was a transsexual, with a front page headline reading "James Bond Girl Was a Boy." The story spread quickly and, by her own accounts, Cossey was so upset by the press coverage that she seriously contemplated suicide. However, she was eventually able to continue her modelling career. In 1982, Cossey responded by releasing I Am a Woman, her first autobiography.
After the furore died down, Cossey became engaged to Count Glauco Lasinio, an Italian advertising executive, who was the first man who dated her knowing of her history from the beginning. He encouraged her to petition for change in British law concerning transsexuals. The engagement failed, but the legal process continued for seven years, eventually reaching the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
In 1985, after breaking up with Lasinio, she met Elias Fattal, a Jewish businessman, who was not aware of her history until proposing marriage on Valentine's Day 1988. Rather than rejecting her, as she had feared, he merely asked if she would convert to Judaism, which she did. They were married on 21 May 1989, a few weeks after the European Court of Human Rights handed down their decision to legally recognize Cossey as a female on 9 May. They returned from their honeymoon to find that The News of the World had done another story on their wedding. Fattal's family was angry and horrified and after a few weeks, convinced him to have the marriage annulled.On 27 September 1990, the European Court overturned their decision after the British government appealed. (Transsexuals born in the United Kingdom would later be declared legally female through the Gender Recognition Act 2004.) Cossey returned to modeling, which she had not done for the four years with Fattal.
In 1991, Cossey released My Story, her second autobiography which told the details of her transition and her unsuccessful battle with the European Commission. Cossey was featured in the September 1991 issue of Playboy, in pictorial "The Transformation Of Tula", this time as an acknowledged transsexual.
Cossey married again in 1992 to Canadian David Finch. The couple are still married and living in Kennesaw, Georgia, just outside Atlanta. Both are actively involved in the transsexual community in the USA, England, and around the world. Since her marriage, she now prefers to be known in private by her married name as Caroline Finch, although she still uses Cossey as her professional name.
- Her measurements are 36C-25-36.
- She's 6' 0" tall.
- Her dress size is 12 (UK), and she takes size 6 (UK) shoes.
- She suffered blackouts during her adolescence due to the fact that her body was manufacturing both female and male hormones.
- "The biggest step wasn't going out in public wearing female clothes and make-up, but rather getting my ears pierced. Back then in 1971, it wasn't just a case of men didn't get their ears pierced, but most women didn't either. But I wanted to look pretty and wear earrings, and there was no way I was going to wear any of those horrible clip-ons. So I decided I was definitely going to have my ears pierced, and got them done just before my seventeenth birthday."
- "It did feel a bit strange at first to have pierced ears, feeling the earrings actually going through my earlobes. But I soon got used to it, and I'm glad I decided to have them done because I love wearing earrings, especially big hoops - I love feeling them swinging about and tugging at my lobes when I walk, and guys find them really sexy too."
- "The first time a man made love to me was the most magical experience I'd ever had up to that point. Feeling him entering and moving inside me was wonderful and, at that point, I finally felt like a complete woman."
- "Climbing into the box for the first time was both exciting and scary at the same time. One the one hand, its every girl's dream to be up there on stage as a glamorous magician's assistant in her sparkly costume, and that's really exciting. But, on the other hand, I was about to be sawed in half, and that's a scary thought, because you're wondering what its going to feel like as the saw goes through you and if its going to hurt. Fortunately, I didn't have to worry, as it didn't hurt at all as he sawed through me, just tickled a little, and I quite enjoyed being in two pieces."
- (On her 1979 affair with Des Lynam) "He was the most wonderful, passionate kisser. He was very touchy-feely and very physical."
- "Although I do enjoy modelling a lot, the thing I enjoy the most is actually working with magicians and taking part in their illusions. It may sound a bit silly, but being sawed in half by a magician really makes me feel complete because, well, they do call it 'sawing a woman in half', don't they?!"
- "Modelling and acting are fun, but the most enjoyable thing by far is being a housewife and looking after my husband. Well, actually, there is one thing that's more enjoyable than that, and it also involves my husband, if you know what I mean..."
- "I suppose my sex life now is like any other woman's. Sometimes you can't relax and reach a climax; other times you do."
- "It's always such a thrill to look at my hand and see my wedding ring there. I love being married, and I've got such a wonderful husband."
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 "The transformation of Tula. (transsexual Caroline Cossey)", by Gretchen Edgren, Playboy, September 1991, v38 n9 p102.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 My Story by Caroline Cossey. 1991. Faber and Faber. ISBN 0-571-16251-7
- ↑ "Sporting kiss and tell's", 8 May 2005, Observer Sport Monthly, The Guardian. Retrieved 2007-11-01.
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 Template:Dk icon "Bondpigen var mand", (Bond girl was a man), by Henning Høeg, 23 November 2006, B.T.. Retrieved 2007-11-01.
- ↑ Henri Brandman & Co., Solicitors, famous cases. Retrieved 2007-11-01.
- ↑ "Beauty/Fashion; The Mirror Cracked", by Marcelle Clements, 15 September 1991, The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-09-27.