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Sally Payne

Sally Payne, born 1967


This interview deals with both personal and political issues that are connected with being a transwoman. Sally Payne describes her coming out as a trans person who was previously married, with four children. She "officially" came out in February 2004, but was making forays into transsexuality already over a decade earlier, in 1995, when modems first became cheaper and she could search the Internet for information about transpeople. Because her wife found out, Sally had to put her search on hold, until she got divorced and was living on her own. Sally is now involved in 'Outskirts', a Birmingham social support group for transpeople and is in charge of the group's website. The group meets regularly and also socializes in the bars in Birmingham gay village, where they have become quite well known. Sally's main involvement in the community is photography - she made a name for herself photographing Birmingham queer events and the community of trans women. During the interview, she also talked about the history of transpeople, and about legal issues, in particular the Gender Recognition Act and the practicalities of living as a trans person, for instance, getting one's documents changed officially. She also talked about some notable absences within Outskirts and Birmingham trans community, that is, the absence of trans women and of racial and ethnic diversity.


Transsexual - 00 10 20 30 40
Gender Recognition Act - 00
Gay attitudes to transsexuals - 10
First experience of gay Birmingham - 20
Photography - 30
Photographing queer Birmingham - 40
Out of the Shadows exhibition 30

10 Going out on the gay scene

"We often post a message on the (Outskirts) website, saying 'do you want to go out?' and we will usually get between five and ten of us meet in town, go for a meal and go to the bars. We are very well known in the city, as there are not that many of us. We usually start with Glamourous, we are very well tolerated in the Green Room, sometimes Equator and occasionally Angels. We go into the Loft Lounge, the food good and the people are nice. Very occasionally I will go to Nightingale, the staff are very nice to us but I find some of the gay men and women really don't like us."

20 First time on the gay scene as a trans women

"The first gay pub I ever went to was the Victoria, and went to what was then called Partners. That was my first introduction to seeing gay people and also seeing trans people. We also went to Nightingale, that night it was great, I got very drunk and had some awful chips there! It was just after this my wife found out about me and I stopped. (mid-nineties)

30 Photography

Sally has been taking photos since she was ten years old, encouraged by her stepfather she has always studied and enjoyed it. When her marriage ended and she was living on her own again she brought a brand new digital SLR camera and began to document the trans community. "Trans people love being photographed, it enables us to chart our progress for one thing. And there is also the narcissistic part of us that say look at me, I don't dress like this not to be noticed. I personally like to dress pretty and look nice. Photographing trans people is no problem whatsoever." Sally has become well known in the trans community and has exhibited as part of the Out of the Shadows exhibition during Pride 2007. She has also had four photographs exhibited at Tate Modern.

40 Documenting the Queer Community

Sally says that documenting the world around her is the most interesting aspect of her photography and as she is part of Birmingham's queer community she enjoys photographing events, like Birmingham Pride. "The last three Birmingham Prides, The Birmingham Pride Ball and numerous Outskirts functions. I have also been the official photographer for the annual Midlands trans get together."