Belfast Telegraph

Finally Kellie Maloney comes out swinging at the hatred that she once spouted

Kellie Maloney, previously known as Frank, is a conundrum to me. The more I've tried to understand her, the more perplexed I am. Not because Kellie was born male and has chosen to undergo gender realignment to live as a woman.

That part isn't particularly shocking to me, any more than a decision to change genders by anyone I don't personally know is shocking.

The concept is hardly a new one and you don't have to do much research, or read many personal testimonies, to understand the compulsion to act on years of self-knowledge and long-term unhappiness and frustration.

Yes, it's more surprising when a man famous for striding a world steeped in machismo reveals intentions to become a woman, but a little more research makes clear that this is not unusual.

There is much in the Maloney story to celebrate. Firstly, the almost universally supportive response from sportsmen such as Lennox Lewis (whom Maloney, as promoter/manager, took to a world title), ex-footballer Stan Collymore and pundit Steve Bunce, who called Maloney "possibly the bravest person in boxing".

It would be naive to think that there aren't also a hundred daft un-PC jokes floating like butterflies and stinging like bees around British boxing gyms.

But it's a sign of progress that sportspeople now understand that knuckle-headed ignorance and uninformed bigoted 'banter' are no longer regarded as good-old fashioned common sense by the wider world.

It's also always cheering to read the tale of a person who has struggled horribly with a secret – Maloney described her previous life as "a living hell" – and found the strength and guts to free themselves from that existence.

For that, I applaud Maloney and hope she gives hope and courage to others still trapped in her previous situation.

What continues to nag at me is the unnecessarily strident statements Maloney has made about other minority social groups at the wrong end of bullies whose adherence to their 'traditional' values means sticking the boot into anyone who doesn't confer to the mainstream.

In 2004 Maloney, who now calls for "open-mindedness" with regards to her own circumstances, said she wouldn't campaign (as a Ukip London mayor) in Camden because there were "too many gays" there.

Pulled up later on those words, she showed a little repentance, admitting the remarks were "silly".

But she also said she continued to stand for "traditional family values", that "I don't think gays do a lot for society", that she was offended by those who "flaunted their sexuality" and was strongly opposed to same-sex marriages.

Are we to infer then that Maloney would have advised her wife of 15 years, with whom she had two daughters, to abandon her husband when he revealed his urge to change gender? It was just after Tracey left their unhappy marriage that Maloney attempted suicide.

If they had stayed together, would Maloney have welcomed the comments of those campaigning against the rights of same-sex families to exist – as she herself was doing as recently as 2010?

I'm not labelling Maloney a hypocrite. I am genuinely confused by what has happened.

The closest I can get to an explanation is that beating herself up for "living a lie" led an internally agonised Maloney to regard open-mindedness and compassion as necessary sacrifices, and her abandonment of them mere collateral damage.

I hope that will change now, as honesty liberates the man to finally be the woman he always wanted to be.

And that her story will stand as an important lesson about all that is lost when social prejudices create a fear of being the person you really are.

Remember Robin for his comic genius

The rush of tributes to Robin Williams upon news of his death this week are a mark of the man.

There is always a queue of celebs ready to throw out a line and an RIP when someone famous dies but what was notable with Williams was the length, detail, and wholeheartedness of so many eulogies.

People like Steve Martin and Terry Gilliam sought to say something meaningful and memorable about the man with a big heart and a breathtaking talent.

A shame then that some of the British tabloids sought instead to pore over the gruesome details of Williams' final moments. Talk about missing the damn point.

Op brings a smile from ear to ear

Incredible things happen on a daily basis around the world, as YouTube has shown us all.

If you haven't seen the footage of nine year old Kieran Sorkin having his rib-bone cut out, shaved and sculpted into a set of ears to sew on to his skull where there were previously just tiny bumps, I urge you to seek it out.

The combination of science and artistry is awesome, but even more wonderful is the consistently upbeat and uncomplaining nature of the irresistible Sorkin, who has clearly never let his appearance set him back but who also says he has dreamt of this gift for many years. A delight.

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