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Transgender woman: I would love to rejoin Orange Order

By Rebecca Black

Published 04/08/2016

Adrianne Elson
Adrianne Elson
Adrian Elson wearing his sash

A former Orangeman who has started a new life as a woman says having children is her priority - though she would love to be an Order member again.

Adrianne Elson has even delayed medical treatment in her gender transition while she and her partner - a transitioning man - attempt to get pregnant.

She spoke out in a TV programme about how she longed to rejoin the Orange Order as a woman, but she told the Belfast Telegraph last night that while an invitation would mean the world to her, having children was her main focus.

"Normally, to join the Orange Order, you are asked to join a lodge," she said.

"The gesture of the invitation would have been nice, but that has obviously not been forthcoming. On the grounds of equality, yes it is important and I am not ruling it out, but as it stands I have got other things going on in my life. I work long hours doing shift work on the railways and my partner and I are trying for a baby."

She added: "The point I was making (in the TV interview) was that it would be a nice gesture if LGBT people were allowed to join a lodge of the required gender or allowed to be out as homosexuals and be in the Order."

Adrianne arrived in Belfast 11 years ago as Adrian, an Orangeman, and even protested against the city's Pride parade.

But in 2005 she realised that she had to start living as a woman, she told the BBC's Victoria Derbyshire programme.

She had hoped that by immersing herself in the organisation she would be able to take her mind off her gender dysphoria. But this did not work, and Adrianne began to formally transition around four years ago. She has since married her partner, and they have both delayed taking gender transition drugs to attempt to have a family.

"To take sex characteristic altering medication such as estrogen, and in the female to male case testosterone, can render you infertile," she explained.

"For that reason we were advised strongly not to go down that medical route. We are very unusual in that I have not got a gender recognition certificate, so in the eyes of the law I am still male despite being on the NHS Real Life Experience programme.

"My treatment is on hiatus because of my unusual circumstances. I never started taking it, because when I was attending the clinic I met my partner and we made the commitment to have a child before the medication."

Adrianne said while she and her partner still experience transphobic abuse, it is less than before.

"Attitudes have improved and a lot of that is to do with media and high-profile transgender celebrities," she said.

"My Transgender Summer, shown a couple of years ago, was a catalyst for how transgender issues are perceived in the UK as a whole, and Northern Ireland is a few years behind as usual, but things are definitely improving. I feel that when I am walking down the street I am not getting the same abuse. Things are changing and changing for the better."

Adrianne also stood by friend Christopher Luke, who in March sparked controversy when he penned an emotional memorial notice for former Ulster Unionist leader Lord Molyneaux.

Mr Luke, who is gay, wrote "I grieve for you... you were very dear to me. Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women. I love you more today than I did yesterday, but less than I will tomorrow, my dear Jim, your eternal protege, Chrissie."

A photo of him with the peer taken by Adrianne appeared in the media.

"I don't personally regret it but I don't want to rock the boat, I don't want to upset people," he said.

Belfast Telegraph

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