Suffolk retiree becomes first trans woman to appear on cover of WI magazine
- Credit: Women's Institute
A retired Suffolk consultant has made history as the first transgender woman to feature on the front cover of the Women's Institute magazine.
WI member Petra Wenham, 74, appears on the front of the July/August issue of WI Life, the membership magazine for the organisation.
Speaking in the magazine, Ms Wenham, a member of Cake and Revolution WI, Suffolk East Federation, said: "WI members are not just accepting but actively supportive and are welcoming me to the sisterhood."
Ms Wenham also discusses her work as an activist and speaker, and the reaction to her myth-busting talk - 'Have you Never Met a Trans Woman? - which she delivers to other WI groups.
Ms Wenham came out to her wife of 48 years, Loraine, in 2015 at the age of 68 and began living full-time as a woman in 2018.
After seeing Loraine, who she describes as her "rock", as president of the Elmsett and Aldham WI, which closed in 2019, Ms Wenham said she was inspired to seek out her own "vibrant" chapter.
She is now trying her hand at knitting a beanie hat for the first time she was eight years old.
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"The WI gives me access to build friendships with other women, which is what I need, to build a friendship base besides Loraine."
Ms Wenham said she is hopeful for the future of trans rights in the UK.
"Things are going to become much more inclusive," she added. "Gay and lesbian people were being heavily attacked in the media 10 or 15 years ago. There's obviously still some discrimination around but now that we've managed to get same sex marriages, I think that [acceptance] will happen on the trans side as well."
Melissa Green, general secretary, National Federation of Women’s Institutes (NFWI), said: “The WI is proudly a trans-inclusive organisation and has been for more than a decade.
"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.”