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Women’s Institute puts proud trans woman on magazine cover in historic first

Lily Wakefield July 2, 2021
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Petra Wenham, 74, said she was "honoured" to be the first trans person on the cover of the magazine WI Life. (Twitter/ WILifeMagazine)

The Women’s Institute (WI) has featured a trans woman on the cover of its magazine for the first time ever: 74-year-old activist Petra Wenham.

Petra, a member of the Cake and Revolution WI in Suffolk, said she was “honoured” to be the first trans person to grace the cover of WI Life.

In the magazine, she explained that she came out as trans to her wife, Loraine, in 2015 and came out publicly in 2018.

Around the same time, she began delivering a talk to other WI groups titled: “Have you ever met a trans woman?”

In it, she explains to members the difference between sex and gender, what it’s like to grow up trans, what it means to be intersex and the cost of transitioning, among other topics.

Petra wants to show WI members that “the human condition is complex and gloriously so”.

She added: “I have an opportunity to knock the myths out of the way. It’s a big problem: there’s a lot of misinformation.”

 

Petra, the WI’s first trans cover star, is happily married to her wife of 48 years

Throughout Petra’s coming out journey her wife, with whom she has two children and two grandchildren, has been her “rock”.

“I’m very fortunate that I still have my wife Loraine and we’ve been happily married for 48 years,” she said.

“She’s my rock and that gives me a much better base to talk from than some trans people who have been kicked out by their partner or are suffering from depression.”

Just as her wife has fully embraced her, so has the WI.

She said: “WI members are not just accepting, but actively supportive and are welcoming me to the sisterhood… The WI gives me access to build friendships with other women, which is what I need, to build a friendship base besides Loraine.”

The Women’s Institute has “welcomed all women” since 1915

The news of Petra’s magazine cover has prompted a predictable pile-on on social media from anti-trans feminists, who even turned on Nigella Lawson for describing the news as “lovely”.

But the organisation was sure to point out in the article that it “welcomes all women and has done since day one in 1915”.

t released a public statement in the 2000s to clarify its position, and has since worked with trans education charity Gendered Intelligence to draft it Equality, Diversity and Inclusion policy.

Melissa Green, general secretary for the National Federation of Women’s Institutes (NFWI), told the East Anglian Daily Times: “The WI is proudly a trans-inclusive organisation… Trans women are welcome to join the WI and participate in meetings and activities in the same way as any other woman.

“We were delighted to feature Petra on the cover of the latest WI Life magazine and share her inspiring work as a speaker and activist.

“It is wonderful that Petra has been welcomed into her WI with such kindness and that reflects the ethos of the WI – it’s about women coming together in a friendly and inclusive environment, learning new things and making a difference in their communities.”

Related topics: Trans

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