Heaven & Hell: Petra Wenham

Suffolk transwoman Petra Wenham. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown

Petra Wenham - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Petra is a cybersecurity retiree. After a bout of illness and hospitalisation a few years ago she decided to take the brave leap to live as her true self, transitioning from male to female. Fully supported by her wife of 49 years, today Petra is a very happy 75-year-old woman. She is a member of the Cake and Revolution Women’s Institute Group and was recently featured in the WI’s house magazine, WI Life. Here she talks to Gina Long...

What is your connection to East Anglia?

We moved from St Albans to Suffolk in August 2003, we choose the area because my wife had family here.

What is your East Anglian Heaven?

The beautiful countryside with some historic locations and towns. I love Norwich and Norwich Castle, Bury St Edmunds with its cathedral, the seaside towns of Aldeburgh, Southwold and Wells and, of course, the Broads National Park.  My list could go on, we are blessed with many wonderful places to visit. 

What is your East Anglian Hell?

It must be travel. The time it takes to get into London by train, the A140, the Copdock A12/A14 interchange. Oh, and poor mobile phone signals.

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What are your favourite East Anglian restaurants?

The George in Hintlesham.

What’s your favourite East Anglian landmark?

I'd say both the Suffolk and Norfolk coastlines.

Petra at Ipswich Community Radio where she was a guest on the 'Prevloved Chica Time Capsule show hosted by Elene Marsden

Petra at Ipswich Community Radio where she was a guest on the 'Prevloved Chica Time Capsule show hosted by Elene Marsden - Credit: Contributed

What is always in your fridge?

Food...and occasionally a bottle of white Port.

What’s your simple philosophy of life?

Live and let live.

What’s your favourite film?

I don’t actually have one.

What was your first job?

An apprentice with the then Post-Office Telephones.

What is your most treasured possession?

My Opus. It’s a stuffed animal, a bulbous nosed penguin. Was given it when I finished my tour of duty to my then company’s head office in New York City (I worked for J P Morgan). Opus features in a cartoon strip and I was told it epitomised the American male angst.

Petra and her wife Lorraine celebrating their 49th wedding anniversary at Hintlesham Hall

Petra and her wife Lorraine celebrating their 49th wedding anniversary at Hintlesham Hall - Credit: Contributed

Who do you admire most?

My wife.

What is your biggest indulgence?

Probably technology. I have a lovely audio system built up over several years.

What do you like about yourself most?

That I eventually accepted my truth and came out as a trans woman.

What’s your worst character trait?

I’m an analytic and can spend hours analysing things to the extreme.

Where is your favourite holiday destination?


What’s your favourite breakfast?


What’s your favourite tipple?

Very dry sherry and chilled dry white Port

Your earliest memory?

The single room my mum rented. We lived in Herstpierpoint in West Sussex.

What would you like played at your funeral?

Queen's I Want to Break Free.

Tell us something people don’t know about you?

I hold a degree in electrical engineering (light current).

What’s the worst thing anyone has ever said to you?

Being told I was a piece of s*** and didn’t know what I was talking about.

Tell us why you live here and nowhere else?

It’s home.

What do you want to tell our readers about most?

That people who are transgender are humans like everyone else and deserve the same respect and rights as other people. We don't have a choice in who we are, it’s the way our genetic cookie crumbled. Are you in the early stages of transitioning male to female or female to male, or perhaps questioning? Here are some NHS resources you can go to that helped me: england.nhs.uk/about/equality/lgbt-health

I am always looking for interesting people from Suffolk and Norfolk to feature in my Q&A. Please contact me at gina@hallfarmfornham.com