|Born||Barry Kenneth Cossey
31 August 1954
Brooke, Norfolk, England
|Spouse(s)||Elias Fattal (1989)
David Finch (1992-present)
|Height||6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)|
Caroline "Tula" Cossey (born 31 August 1954) is an English model. She is one of the world's most well known trans women, having appeared in a James Bond film and been the first to pose for Playboy. Since being outed by British tabloid News of the World, Cossey has fought for her right to legally marry and to be recognised by the law as a woman.
Early life and transition
Cossey was born Barry Kenneth Cossey in Brooke, Norfolk, and raised as male. Through puberty, Cossey was distinctly feminine in appearance due to a variant of an intersex condition known as Klinefelter's syndrome, where, instead of having the XY male chromosome pattern, she possesses the genotype XXXY (people with Klinefelter's syndrome usually have XXY). 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 her sister, Pam, with whom she played dress up in their mother's clothes. Cossey left formal schooling when she was fifteen, and found work in a clothing store and as a butcher's apprentice. At sixteen she moved to London and worked at a variety of low-wage jobs.
Cossey started transitioning after befriending a post-operative trans woman. By 17, Cossey was receiving hormone therapy, living full-time in a female gender role and had begun a career as a showgirl at a London nightclub. Despite initial shock, Cossey's parents were eventually supportive. Following breast augmentation surgery, Cossey worked as a showgirl in Paris and as a topless dancer in Rome to save up for sex reassignment surgery (SRS). After years of hormonal and psychological treatment, and legally changing her name, Cossey had her final surgery on 31 December 1974 at Charing Cross Hospital, London.
Modelling career and outing by the tabloid press
Cossey now began an active social life as a woman, concealing her past as a male. Asked about her dating life, Cossey replied, "I'm afraid I went a little wild". She told tabloids she had a romance with the television presenter Des Lynam, though Lynam says he does not recall it. Lynam however mentions going on dates with her in his autobiography. Cossey worked as a model under the name "Tula". She appeared in top magazines such as the Australian Vogue and Harper's Bazaar, and worked extensively as a glamour model. She was a Page Three Girl for the British tabloid The Sun and appeared in Playboy in 1991.
In 1978, Tula won a part on the British game show 3-2-1. A tabloid journalist then contacted her, revealing he had discovered she was transsexual, and planned to write about it. Other journalists researched her past, attempting to interview her family members. Cossey dropped out of the show, convincing the producers to release her from her contract. After this incident, Tula maintained a lower profile, accepting only smaller assignments.
Tula was cast as an extra in the 1981 James Bond film For Your Eyes Only. Shortly after the film’s release, the tabloid News of the World came out with a front page headline that read "James Bond Girl Was a Boy." By her own accounts, Tula was so upset she contemplated suicide. However, she continued her modelling career. Tula responded by releasing I Am a Woman, her first autobiography.
Tula became engaged to Count Glauco Lasinio, an Italian advertising executive, who was the first man to date her knowing of her past. He encouraged her to petition for changes in the British law concerning transsexuals. The engagement ended, but her legal efforts continued for seven years, eventually reaching the European Court of Human Rights.
In 1985, Tula appeared extensively in the video for The Power Station's "Some Like It Hot". After breaking up with Lasinio, Tula met Elias Fattal, a Jewish businessman, who was unaware of her history until he proposed marriage on St Valentine's Day 1988. When she told him, rather than rejecting her, he merely asked if she would convert to Judaism. She agreed. They were married on 21 May 1989, just weeks after the European Court of Human Rights decided legally to recognize Tula as a woman. They returned from their honeymoon to find that the News of the World had published a story on their wedding. Fattal's family was angry and persuaded him to have the marriage annulled.
On 27 September 1990, the European Court overturned their decision on a British government appeal. (Later, the Gender Recognition Act 2004 was passed, giving transgender people in the United Kingdom means to change their legal sex.) Tula returned to modelling, which she had given up four years earlier.
In 1991, Tula released My Story, her second autobiography. In it she gave details of her transition and her unsuccessful battle with the European Commission. She was featured in the September 1991 issue of Playboy, in a pictorial, "The Transformation Of Tula", as an acknowledged transsexual.
- Tula (1982). I am a Woman. Sphere. ISBN 0-7221-0583-5.
- Tula (1991). My Story. Faber and Faber. ISBN 0-571-16251-7.
- Tula (2015). My Story. eBook on Amazon.com
- Edgren, Gretchen (September 1991). "The transformation of Tula (transsexual Caroline Cossey)". Playboy. 38 (9): 102. Archived from the original on December 6, 2004.
- "Tula: The Transexual Bond Girl" Retrieved 26 May 2015
- Cossey, Caroline (1991). My Story. London: Faber and Faber. ISBN 0-571-16251-7.
- "Sporting kiss and tell's", 8 May 2005, Observer Sport Monthly, The Guardian; Retrieved 1 November 2007
- "21 Transgender People Who Influenced American Culture". Time Magazine.
- (Danish) "Bondpigen var mand", (Bond girl was a man), by Henning Høeg, 23 November 2006, B.T.; Retrieved 1 November 2007
- Reported and notable cases Henri Brandman & Co. Solicitors, Retrieved 1 November 2007
- Clements, Marcelle (15 September 1991). "Beauty/Fashion; The Mirror Cracked". The New York Times. p. 71. Retrieved 25 April 2011.
- "A '90s odd couple : Montreal man to marry transsexual", by Wendy McCann, Canadian Press, Kitchener-Waterloo Record, Mar 16, 1992. Also printed as "Montreal man to marry British transsexual model", The Hamilton Spectator, Mar 16, 1992. Retrieved 2013-05-30.